1. What is Health Law?
Health law is a broad category referring to the laws and regulations governing the delivery of health care. Health law includes topics ranging from biomedical ethics to finance and taxation. Indeed, one might encounter a health law-related issue in almost every subject in the in the law school curriculum.
2. Where is Health Law practiced?
Private practitioners of health law may represent individual clients, such as those involved in medical malpractice litigation or alternative dispute resolution. They may work on behalf of groups of health care providers, such as physician practice groups. Their work may be transactional, entailing activities such as negotiating contracts between various providers of health care. They may elect to specialize in a particular area of need, such as biotechnology, elder law or disability law. In larger corporate settings, lawyers may represent hospitals or hospital chains, working on a broad range of issues, including not only garden variety negligence and transactional practices, but also regulatory compliance issues and even tax law.
Most health care institutions have in-house departments or lawyers devoted to providing counsel regarding various regulatory, operational and transactional issues. Some typical responsibilities include risk prevention, employment and labor issues, contractual issues, purchasing, tax issues, ethics disputes, implementing policies, assisting outside counsel in medical malpractice defense, and continuing education for health care providers, judges, lawyers and law-makers. Government: Government health lawyers typically work with federal, state and local agencies in policy-setting, rate-setting and the regulation of health care institutions and licensed providers. Such agencies include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the California Department of Public Health, and the Department of Health Care Services (CA).
Public interest health lawyers typically work with nonprofit organizations in policy-setting, brief-writing, lobbying and advocating particular issues on behalf of the organization. Some notable public interest organizations include the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Many advocacy groups use health lawyers as well. For instance, there are lawyers working for state and national agencies advocating on behalf of the uninsured, for immigration organizations and for the American Civil Liberties Union.
3. What Courses and Academic Experiences would be helpful?
- Health Law 1: Patients, Providers, and Payers
- Health Law 2: Health Care Regulation and Finance
- Administrative Law
- Business Organizations
- Biotechnology Law Seminar
- Disability Law
- Drug Abuse Law Seminar
- Food and Drug Law
- Gender and Law
- Health Law Seminar
- Insurance Law
- Law and Behavioralism
- Law and Social Justice Seminar
- Privacy Law
- Sexuality and the Law
- Social Justice Workshop : Public Interest and Social Justice Practice
4. What timeline should I be following?
Students interested in Health law should enroll in Health Law 1 and 2 during the fall and spring semesters of their second year. Students should enroll in either Administrative Law or Business Organizations during their second year, but are encouraged to take both courses as they are both helpful for the practice of Health law. These courses lay the foundation for advanced coursework and students should look to enroll in at least two of the electives listed above for their third year of study. Experience It is recommended that students pursue a summer internship with a firm, corporation, government agency or nonprofit organization as most health law employers prefer candidates with actual experience. Students should research potential employers and meet with LCS to develop a job search strategy. LCS can provide students with contact information for alumni practicing in the various areas of health law. Students should take the time to conduct informational interviews with these practitioners to determine which opportunities would be the best fit for them. As a general matter, students are advised to target large law firms, large corporations and federal government agencies during the fall as these entities are more likely to have a set recruiting schedule and know their hiring needs. Consequently, students are advised to target smaller firms, state and local government agencies, smaller corporations and public interest organizations during the spring.
Another way to attract the attention of employers is for students to write a paper on a health law issue. Students may want to consider submitting a paper for publication to the Santa Clara Law Review or any of the journals dedicated to health law. Various health law publications may be found at the following link: stu.findlaw.com/journals/health.html
Several law schools offer LLM degrees in Health Law. Go to LLM Guides website for a list of school offering Health Law LLM degrees.
5. What Professional Organizations and Associations can I join to meet people and find out more?
- American Health Lawyers Association– This association provides a job bank devoted to various positions in health law
- American College of Legal Medicine
- Health Law Committee of the Business Law Section of CA Bar
- Health Law Section of the American Bar Association
Many professional organizations are available on Linkedin:
- American Health Lawyers Association
- American Bar Association Health Law Section
- The Network for Public Health Law
- Health and Hospital Lawyer Network
6. What additional resources should I check out for further information?
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- California Department of Public Health
- Department of Health Care Services (CA)
- American Hospital Association
- American Medical Association
- Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
7. Which faculty members at SCU have worked in Health Law?