The field of law that focuses specifically on healthcare is diverse, challenging, and constantly changing, and that presents growth opportunities at a time when some fields of law are seeing job stagnation. But many law students aren’t aware of these possibilities, which run the gamut from malpractice litigation to end-of-life planning; from medical-records compliance to helping people navigate the complexities of the mental-health system. And those opportunities are only expected to keep expanding.
Health law is an incredibly broad, diverse and dynamic field of law. Health lawyers work on cases and policy relating to access to care, insurance coverage, difficult ethical choices (particularly at the beginning and end of life), providers of care (and how these providers are organized and paid), the safety of our drugs and food supply, disease prevention and treatment, and many other fascinating topics. In part because of the breadth of the field, health law also cuts across and involves doctrine and practice from a wide array of areas, including contract law, tax law, corporations and nonprofit organization, insurance and pension law, employment and labor law, public benefits law, torts, ethics, criminal law, administrative law, privacy, civil rights, reproductive rights, constitutional law, and statutory drafting and interpretation—even First Amendment religious liberty and freedom of speech concepts can be implicated in the field of health law. And health law is practiced in a dizzying range of settings: in federal, state and local government; in legal services organizations; in advocacy nonprofits; and in private public interest law firms, to name a few. Students and alumni attracted to health law as a career path can choose among many different types of legal practice, from direct client services to agency counsel or in-house work to policy work. These multiple diversities make health law a field where almost anyone can find an area of interest, and where those working within the field can often find new challenges. Some students enter law school with a preexisting interest in or curiosity about health law. Perhaps they have an undergraduate degree in the life sciences and/or considered going to medical school; perhaps they have worked in an HIV or health clinic in the United States or abroad; perhaps they did a college internship on Capitol Hill or in an advocacy nonprofit and were exposed to health care legislation. Other students may approach health law as a new interest, sparked by something studied in their 1L year or by a clinical or legal internship experience.
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