Questions to Ask When Preparing for a Career in Health Policy and Law
In which health-related issues am I most interested (e.g., bioethics, consumer protection, environmental hazards, global health, health care access and quality, mental health, pharmaceuticals, reproductive rights, toxic torts, workplace health and safety)?
Which entities — in both the public and private sector — work to address these issues? What government agencies exercise authority over my particular issues of interest? What role do legal services groups and non-profit organizations play? What law firms have health law departments or specialize in health law? What insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, HMOs, pharmaceutical companies or medical equipment manufacturers have legal departments working on matters that I care about?
Who do I want to work for? Individuals? Regulators? Hospitals? Physicians? Nurses? Insurance companies? Non-profit advocacy organizations? Lobbying organizations? Legislators?
Do I have specific legal skills that will position me well for practice in the field of health law? How can I best use my co-ops to acquire these skills?
How can I build on any relevant work experience I may have had prior to law school?
What steps should I take to improve my core legal research and writing abilities, as well as oral communication and advocacy skills? What extracurricular activities or Opportunities for Student Distinction are available that would support my skill-building efforts?
Have I taken key introductory courses in public health and/or health law? Is there a niche area of health law where I can distinguish myself as having specialized knowledge (e.g., health information technology, conflicts of interest, disparities in health and health care delivery)?
Am I staying current on the latest case law and developments in the health law field by subscribing to a regular newsletter, listserv, blog or other communication from a well-respected source?
Have I joined relevant student organizations or national health policy and law organizations, and am I using these memberships as a way to learn about conferences, workshops, or other networking events that I might attend?
Select Online Resources for Health Policy and Law Careers
- American Bar Association Health Law Section
- American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA)
- American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics (ASLME)
Representative Law School Co-ops
- Alternatives for Community and Environment, Boston
- ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, New York
- Breakstone, White-Lief & Gluck, Boston
- Center for Reproductive Rights, International Legal Program, New York
- Cubist Pharmaceuticals, IP Department, Lexington, MA
- Community Catalyst, Boston
- Disability Rights Center (Boston, MA and Concord, NH)
- Drug Policy Alliance, Office of Legal Affairs, Berkeley, CA
- Francois-Zavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Boston
- Greater Boston Legal Services, Health and Disability Unit, Boston
- Health Law Advocates, Boston
- Krokidas & Bluestein, Boston
- Massachusetts Executive Office of Helath and Human Services, Boston
- National Advocates for Pregnant Women, New York
- Partners Health Care Office of General Counsel, Boston
- Public Advocates, Inc., San Francisco
- Public Health Advocacy Institute, Boston
- US Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC
- Urban Justice Center, Mental Health Project, New York
- UMass Memorial Healthcare Office of General Counsel, Worcester, MA