What legal counsel and business advice can do for your IBCLC private practice

When I was brainstorming the templates and forms for the Lactation Private Practice Essential Toolkit, I was sure to hire an attorney to carefully go over everything I was saying. I wanted to provide the most accurate, up-to-date, and ethical information possible. My lawyer Linda Strauss has been absolutely amazing–not only does she know the law, she also knows the birth world and was recommended to me by another IBCLC.

Common Legal Issues for Lactation Consultants

From being a part of the IBCLC community for so many years now, I’ve seen certain concerns arise time and time again:

  • How do I comply with the legal regulations in my country, state, or province?

  • What’s informed consent?

  • Am I allowed to text with my clients?

  • What are social media best practices?

  • What happens if I get audited by an insurance company?

  • What do I do if I’m asked to testify as an expert in a custody case?

Legal resources for IBCLCs

First of all, we all need to know the IBLCE Professional Standards backwards and forwards, because it is our responsibility to comply with them fully.

I’m not an attorney, but my consent forms are all attorney-reviewed and cover online issues as well as standard informed consent. I’ve also got the legal language you need for your website, also attorney-reviewed. These forms are all bundled with a whole bunch of other goodies in my Lactation Private Practice Essential Toolkit.

If you are in the US, definitely be aware of the great work being done by the National Women’s Law Center. Their resource section Breastfeeding Benefits: Understanding Your Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act is a must-read for both IBCLCs and our clients.

I’m a huge proponent of smart crowd-sourcing, like the conversations we have in my Facebook group. While they don’t substitute for actual legal counsel, these conversations can help you parse out nuances and apply what you’re learning from trusted resources to your private practice.

Common Business Issues for IBCLCs

In private practice, you’re working for yourself, and that means being an entrepreneur. I grew up in an entrepreneur family (my dad Neil Young started in health insurance and moved into wealth management), and married an entrepreneur (my husband John Frisbie owns a lighting rental company). I haven’t had a full-time job in almost 20 years, and while living by your wits can be a crazy and unpredictable life, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When it comes to IBCLC private practice, there are many basic questions that I cover in Lactation Private Practice: From Start to Strong:

  • How do I structure my business?

  • What am I supposed to chart during a visit?

  • What is the best way to store client information?

  • Should I go paperless?

  • Where do I get liability insurance?

  • How do I decide what to charge for my services?

  • How do I keep my clients happy?

Hiring your own attorney

I highly recommend having the name and contact number of an attorney who is licensed to practice in your state, and who has familiarity with small businesses and with healthcare applications. You really never know when you may need someone in your corner. An attorney can:

  • create and review legal forms

  • file articles of incorporation

  • answer questions about legal and business matters

  • advise on the appropriate business structure for your situation

  • represent you in legal matters

I’d love to hear from you in the Facebook group: what legal or business aspect of private practice do you find most challenging?

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