In the Health Law Concentration, students learn the law and skills needed to represent individual and institutional clients in a wide variety of litigation and non-litigation settings. Students learn relevant practical skills in the Concentration classroom component through role-playing exercises and simulations, as well as in their externship placements and during weekly rounds discussions.
Highlights of Health Law Concentration
- Interviewing and counseling a client about advance health care directives and drafting a health care proxy and living will for that client.
- Researching and drafting an interoffice memo and complaint in a case involving the denial of quality health care to a low-income client by an individual doctor, hospital, and HMO.
- Analyzing provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act and advising an institutional client on provisions relevant to their area of practice.
- Interning with a judge, a legal organization, law firm, or government agency that focuses on a substantive area of health law (such as mental health law, medical malpractice, disability, Health Care Reform, Medicaid and Medicare rights) or involves challenges to denials of health care by HMOs. Interns have the opportunity to focus on particular lawyering skills, such as trial or hearing practice, legal drafting and writing, legislative or administrative advocacy, client interviewing and counseling, or advising an institutional client (such as a hospital). All students are provided with an opportunity to write a practice-related document in their internship and receive feedback from their placement supervisor.
The Health Law and Policy Seminar examines how the Constitution, statutes and the common law determine access to health care, regulate the quality of patient care, and resolve disputes among doctors, hospitals, and patients. Seminar coverage may include:
- The federal Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and Medicare.
- Regulation of the quality of health care, including medical malpractice and professional licensing and discipline.
- Patients' rights and bioethical issues, including informed consent, confidentiality, the right to die, physician-assisted suicide, reproductive rights, and the rationing of high-cost procedures.
- Federal and state regulation of private health insurance and HMOs.
Students select from a array of placements that concentrate on a range of lawyering skills, such as trial practice, legal research and writing, client interviewing and counseling, class action litigation, motion practice, document drafting, appellate advocacy, and public policy and legislative advocacy. Placements include:
- Legal organizations that represent individuals to uphold health care rights and/or bring impact litigation related to health care issues.
- Law firms that handle plaintiffs' medical malpractice cases and represent patients and/or doctors in litigation against insurance companies and managed care providers.
- Government agencies that regulate health care institutions and providers.
- Hospital in-house counsel offices.
- Clerkships with judges who primarily handle health law cases.
During weekly rounds meetings, students discuss the work they are doing in their placements. These discussions provide an opportunity for students to collaborate and generate alternative approaches to particular legal problems and consider related ethical and professional responsibility issues.
Health law is a growing area of practice. Graduates of the Health Law Concentration are currently working in government agencies that oversee the delivery of care, public-interest organizations that protect the health care rights of vulnerable populations (such as the poor, elderly, disabled and people with HIV), private law firms, hospital general counsel offices and in judicial clerkships. Law school graduates with training in health law have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of settings that emphasize trial and appellate litigation, transactional work, regulatory compliance, or policy and legislative advocacy.