UC Hastings Health Law Program

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Welcome! The Consortium is a resource for JD students interested in classes and careers in health law & policy. Whether you want to dabble or Concentrate, Consortium faculty and staff are eager to share with you why we are so passionate about this area of law.

Are you a current student?

Get all the information about current news, events, job postings, course information, and more at the Consortium's MyHastings page!

About the Concentration

Healthcare represents a significant percentage of the U.S. economy and is consistently one of the hottest areas of legal practice. The scope and impact of the industry demands lawyers at every level: from federal and state governments, to corporate and nonprofit entities, to the bedside and the lab. The Law & Health Sciences Concentration provides students with an opportunity to explore the many areas of law that health law & policy touches, and to gain expertise and experience that is demonstrable to future employers.

Although health law and policy is a highly multidisciplinary field, no previous experience with healthcare or science is required or needed to succeed in the Concentration. Concentrators are offered multiple opportunities to engage with healthcare providers and scientists and learn how to be effective interprofessional collaborators. Additionally, students can learn to become proficient consumers of health science research if desired.

Students who are interested in the Concentration should meet with a Concentration Advisor as early in their academic career as possible. Ideally, a student consults with the Concentration Advisor in the spring of their first year at Hastings regarding selection of courses for the fall 2L semester. Students who elect the Concentration after that time should meet with the Concentration Advisor as soon thereafter as possible to develop a curricular plan for their second and third years consistent with their educational and career goals. The advisor can help students balance their plan for specialization with their more general academic goals, such as inclusion of bar courses and satisfaction of UC Hastings requirements.


Explore Health Law Outside UC Hastings

Students have a variety of opportunities to work outside the classroom and at the UCSF campus!

  • UC Hastings offers several clinics, including the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors Clinic, an innovative, award-winning clinic that partners with UCSF and the San Francisco VA Medical Center to provide advance health care, estate planning, public benefits, and wrap-around legal services to older adult patients.
  • Want to take a course at UCSF?  With the Consortium, you can!  You can read more about the program here.
  • UC Hastings offers externships for credit.  In the past, students have worked for the Department of Health and Human Services, the California Department of Insurance, and other California, City, and Federal agencies as well as healthcare providers like UCSF Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente.
  • We also regularly hire students and recent graduates to work with us on a multitude of policy and research projects and scholarship.

Interested in Declaring the Concentration?


FAQs

Nope!

Our courses don't require a science background. In fact most of our JD students come in with no scientific training or expertise at all.

We encourage any student with interest in this area to get involved- the diversity of perspectives is what interdisciplinary learning and research is all about!

You don't!

The Consortium is an academic program at UC Hastings that provides a multitude of opportunities for students, faculty, and others.  These include courses, seminars, clinics, externships, events, career resources, and research opportunities.

The way to get involved is to start showing up!  A good first step is to join our listservs here:
Sign up!

Another way to get involved? By getting in touch! Email Sarah Hooper at hoopers@uchastings.edu with questions or to set up time to talk.  

You can also contact Sarah using this form.

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Career Opportunities for Students and Alum will send you information about jobs

Consortium Activities and Events will notify you about upcoming events

You can sign up for just one, but we recommend both!

Click here to sign up

  • High demand for health lawyers
    • “Health care is another in-demand legal field. Over half of the fastest growing occupations are in health care, so it’s no surprise that health lawyers are in demand, in settings from government agencies to hospitals and law firms. The work covers everything from elder care and embryonic stem cell research to Medicare fraud and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” ~ Courtney Rubin, US News, March 2014
    • “[Health Law] is piping hot right now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act… Institutions are hiring attorneys not only for their traditional legal offices but for compliance issues, risk management, contracts and procurement” ~National Jurist, Sept./ Oct. 2014 Vol.24, No.1
  • Diversity of opportunity
    • The law intersects with health and science in a staggering number of ways: health science is often the subject of law; law is often the subject of empirical research and analysis; and, scientific data often provides the basis for legal and policy change.

See ‘What job opportunities exist in health law?’ section below for descriptions of practice areas

  • Declaring the Concentration in Law & Health Sciences is a great resume booster – it demonstrates a knowledge of the variety of laws related to health, which will open the door to many different employers
  • You will have the opportunity to take up to 6 credits of coursework at UCSF
  • Health Law Concentrators have the opportunity to participate in research and service opportunities that arise from networking in the Consortium's broader community of scholars. Faculty members at UC Hastings and UCSF are engaged in a wide range of research projects and are eager to involve concentrators.
  • Yes, the Concentration in Law & Health Sciences allows students to choose from a wide variety of courses in the Hastings Catalog, and to work with a Concentration advisor to choose coursework that meets students’ goals and interests.
  • The curriculum includes four required courses: US Healthcare System and the Law, Healthcare Providers, Patients and the Law, Science in Law, and Health Sciences Concentration Seminar. Beyond these four required courses students may select electives from a list of approved courses and clinics to fulfill the requirements for the Concentration in Law & Health Sciences.
  • There is no penalty for failing to meet the Concentration in Law & Health Sciences requirements by graduation time. The Concentration will simply not appear on your transcript.
  • It’s easy. First, meet with a Concentration advisor – either Professor Jaime King or Sarah Hooper. They will talk to you about what the Concentration in Law & Health Sciences has to offer and answer any questions you may have. You will then be given a declaration form (listed as 'Concentrated Studies Application') which both you and the advisor will sign. Submit this form to the Records office (200 Building, 2nd Floor, Room 211), and that’s it – you’re done!

Below are a few ways to think about how these fascinating topics translate into career opportunities for attorneys.

Competition in the health field is controversial.  Antitrust issues often arise in connection with medical staff privileging decisions, health trade association activities, and joint ventures and acquisitions.  The result is a plenitude of opportunities for health law attorneys to deal with antitrust issues, from both the prosecutorial and defense perspectives, or simply in terms of client counseling.

The entire health delivery system, particularly where third-party reimbursement is concerned, is premised on a series of contracts, generally with government agencies, insurers, physicians, and institutional providers of care and suppliers of services. Contract law is thus directly or indirectly involved in most health care practices.

Corporate law issues arise during the establishment of hospitals and also in acquisitions, joint ventures, financing, during facility construction or expansion, and in dissolutions. Related issues include state and federal health planning requirements, licensure obligations, and a myriad of other business concerns.

Medical malpractice can involve both civil and criminal law.  One criminal law area involves Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, which encompasses administrative law, corporate law, and contract questions, in addition to criminal law.  Attorneys with expertise in this area may assist in structuring contracts so as to avoid fraud and abuse problems, and may also represent clients who are under investigation by the government.

There is a growing need for attorneys who understand the health and legal needs of older adults.  Older Americans are at the core of debates about health care delivery and cost, and will continue to be essential to healthcare policy as baby boomers age.  The most influential players in health policy will need deep familiarity with this population.  Elder law practice encompasses everything from healthcare to housing and includes advance directives, guardianships, long-term care, income maintenance, property management, healthcare funding, and elder abuse and neglect.

In the rapidly growing area of health law, the most exciting and controversial issues arise in the realm of heath policy and bioethics. Bioethics and health policy cover a wide variety of topics, including stem cell research, the human genome project, and reproductive rights.  Individuals who study bioethics and health policy may find themselves researching and writing legislative initiatives concerning the legal and ethical applications of pharmaceutical breakthroughs, emerging medical technology, and various healthcare plans.  In addition, these individuals may find employment with bioethics groups and ethics committees, which are consulted by hospitals when making difficult decisions, including decisions involving resource allocation.

Attorneys involved in global health law can work with international institutions such as the World Health Organization or USAID to address issues such as health workforce shortages, global health disparities, and healthcare delivery in developing countries.

The delivery of health care is extremely labor intensive.  As a result, health law attorneys can also find themselves working in the realm of labor law.  Common labor law issues that arise in the healthcare context include unionization of health care workers, equal employment opportunities, and occupational health and safety.

Legal aid organizations, established and funded by federal, state, and local governments, exist to provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals.  Increasingly, facilitating access to health care through public benefits programs such as Medicaid is a large component of the work of legal aid organizations.  A growing number of legal aid organizations are now partnering with health care providers such as hospitals, community clinics, and medical schools to provide legal assistance to the most vulnerable patients in order to promote well-being and improve health outcomes.

Many attorneys in health law practice are involved in litigation. Some specialize in administrative litigation before divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Labor Relations Board, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, and related government agencies. Other attorneys concentrate on litigation before state and federal judicial bodies. A litigation practice can cover all the areas listed above, or be limited to specialized issues, such as medical malpractice.

Regulations currently cover virtually every aspect of the health care delivery system. For providers of health services, regulations dictate their organization (health planning, certificates of need), their certification (Medicare, Medicaid), and their funding (Medicare, Medicaid, and other third-party payers).  For consumers of health services, regulations determine their eligibility for third-party reimbursement, and they dictate a baseline for the quality of services.  Medical societies and their individual members are governed by state and federal licensure requirements and by rate-setting provisions. The list of agencies and organizations that regulate healthcare delivery is extensive and spans local, state, and federal levels.

Research provides invaluable information and insight into how society can advance the health and well-being of all its members.  Prior to the regulation of research methods by federal and state governments, it was not uncommon for research methods to involve human rights violations, such as those in Tuskegee.  Now, research is regulated by federal and state governments, and many categories of research are the subjects of intense ethical scrutiny.  Attorneys often play a large role in advising institutions and researchers on the regulations applicable to their particular area of research.

Tax issues arise when attorneys structure corporate acquisitions, mergers and consolidations, reorganizations, or joint ventures for healthcare entities. Tax exemption is particularly relevant to health care delivery, as many health care organizations seek to achieve and maintain tax-exempt status.

 

Attorneys can also play a role in translating the fruits of science into meaningful law and policy, through legislative advocacy or strategic litigation.  This is an area that is gaining increased attention.  In addition, attorneys can work with researchers and providers to find real world applications for new scientific discoveries and insights.


*This list was adapted from materials provided by the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.  We gratefully acknowledge their contribution to these materials.