Experiential Training in Health Law?

Many law schools are thinking about experiential education, and health law would seem to be a great opportunity.  There is a bewildering range of ways to implement experiential training, from simulation-based courses, to in-house clinics, along with placement clinics and hybrid clinics, and externships too.  Many of these seem to blur together on the margins.

The Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education’s 2010-11 Survey of Applied Legal Education (available on SSRN) found that of the 156 law schools responding, 17 had clinics whose “single predominate substantive focus” was defined as “health law,” which amounts to 1.5% of all clinics in the study.  (See p7.)  Also listed were 24 “elder law” clinics and 20 “disability law” clinics, which I suspect may overlap.  The report also shows 29 field placement programs (out of 145 schools responding), which focus on health law.  (See p8.)  In particular, I am aware of Harvard’s Health Law and Policy Clinic.   And SLU’s excellent health law program places clinic students in hospital settings.  I have come across other programs at Pitt, Suffolk, GW, and Northeastern.

We do not have a health law clinic at University of Arizona, but I have helped place my JD students in unofficial externships with the Tucson Family Advocacy Program, a medical-legal partnership that addresses some of the social determinants of health (e.g., a letter to a landlord to stop a roach infestation, to help address chronic child asthma).  Some of my students have also externed in the general counsel’s office of our academic hospital.  I also like to bring students with me to our clinical bioethics meetings, and some of those interactions have led to research projects and student presentations to the committee.  I have also engaged some of our top law students in helping me lead discussion sections for undergrads on some of the big health law cases, such as Jacobson, Griswold, Roe, and Raich.  (I firmly believe that teaching is a kind of experiential education, which develops core lawyering skills.)

I would love to hear from our readers in the comments section .  Do you know of other experiential education programs that focus on health law?  What do you do?  What works well?

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About crobertson

Christopher Robertson is a professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, and affiliated faculty with the Petrie Flom Center for Health Care Policy, Bioethics and Biotechnology at Harvard. Robertson also leads the Regulatory Science program, a partnership with the Arizona Health Sciences Center and the Critical Path Institute. Professor Robertson's research focuses on how the law can improve decisions by individuals and institutions -- attending to informational limits, conflicting interests, and cognitive biases, especially in the domain of healthcare. Blending legal, philosophical, and empirical methods, Robertson's work has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, New York University Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Emory Law Journal, and the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. He has received research support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and runs the Law and Behavior Research Lab at the University of Arizona. Robertson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he also served as a Petrie Flom fellow and lecturer. He earned a doctorate in Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also taught bioethics. For 2013-2014, he was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and will visit at NYU School of Law in 2016-2017. Robertson's legal practice has focused on complex litigation involving medical and scientific disputes.

One thought on “Experiential Training in Health Law?

  1. Loyola Chicago’s Health Justice Project (http://luc.edu/law/centers/healthlaw/hjp/) is a medical-legal partnership that offers students exactly this kind of experiential opportunity. In the 2011-2012 academic year alone, HJP received over 700 referrals from physicians at Erie Community Health (Loyola students had trained these medical providers to identify legal issues affecting health disparities). HJP students secured over $550K in payment and forgiveness of medical expenses for our clients, and almost $550K in Medicaid reimbursements, all while obtaining invaluable experience as client advocates in state court and administrative proceedings.

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