BY LORI OLIVER
Q. What is the most valuable benefit members get from joining the Health Law Section that they can’t get anywhere else?
Members of our Section gain exposure to the diversity that is health law. The mission of the Health Law Section is to enhance the practice of attorneys and others in the health law field through the exchange of health law information, legal seminars, and discussion of emerging issues. Members of the Health Law Section benefit from exposure to topics within a very broad specialty area that is often in the eye of the beholder.
Subject matter within health law includes professional and institutional licensure, medical malpractice, patient discrimination, workers’ compensation, guardianships, insurance reimbursement, Medicare/Medicaid, compliance, health care operations, public health, global health, and emerging issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Section also welcomes legal specialists in other disciplines who routinely represent health care clients—for example, lawyers specializing in employment law, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, tax, private equity, real estate, white-collar criminal defense, antitrust, and other areas in which an understanding of health care as an industry enhances their practice. Health law is heavily regulated, so members of the Section routinely deal with complex state and federal regulatory frameworks such as FDA law, fraud and abuse prevention statutes, privacy and data security, the Common Rule for human subject research,11 U.S. Department of Health & Human Service regulations for the protection of human subjects in research, 45 C.F.R. 46. and accreditation standards.
Our Section includes professionals who routinely represent all types of health care providers, including behavioral health providers, ambulatory clinics, hospitals, post-acute providers, and home health providers. The Section also includes professionals who represent patients, employees, employers, advocacy organizations, policymakers, health plans, and regulators. With national health expenditures at $3.8 trillion (17.7 percent gross national product) in 2019, health law touches all aspects of American life.
Q. What is a recent Section accomplishment or current project that you are excited about?
This past year has been one of innovation for the Section. Like many sections, the Health Law Section pivoted to a virtual education format and has continued to offer high-quality continuing education. Our offerings included education in more traditional health law areas, such as Social Security disability, physician employment law, and how to conduct internal investigations, in addition to educational topics furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion such as reimbursement for gender-affirming care (co-sponsored with the WSBA LGBT Law Section), and our recent disability language and etiquette CLE. In addition, we responded to the real-time impact of the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 to co-sponsor a very well attended “Parenting in the Lifeboat” series in response to the ongoing impact to lawyers with families.
Q. What opportunities does your Section provide for members who are looking for a mentor or for somebody to mentor?
While our Section does not have a formal mentoring program, it has hosted career development opportunities. In April, we hosted a discussion via Zoom for law students and new lawyers interested in health law in which five health lawyers shared their tips and lessons learned from launching their health law practice.
Q. What advice do you have for building a successful practice in the area of law related to your Section and how does membership in your Section help do that?
Health law is fascinating and complex! Taking the opportunity to network at Health Law Section events and meeting others engaged in your area of practice can help you connect with smart Bar Association colleagues. Networking allows our Section members to expand their knowledge base and connect to resources in the legal community.
Q. In addition to membership in your Section, what are the best ways to stay up on the developing law in this practice area?
Our Section’s educational opportunities are available to members and nonmembers. We often invite non-attorneys to attend and participate, helping us build bridges between legal practice and the practical in health law. Many Washington law firms have blogs focused in health law, and there are some great podcasts covering health law as well as the intersections across areas of practice. As a significant portion of health law is federal, the American Health Law Association provides excellent content for developing law and guidance. In addition, given the scope of health expenditures, health law matters are routinely reported in the general press.
Titles Available From the Lending Library Related to Health Law
- Beyond Smart: Lawyering with Emotional Intelligence, by Ronda Muir
- Prescription Drug Addiction: The Hidden Epidemic, by Rod Colvin
- A Lawyer’s Guide to Working with Special Needs Clients, by Richard A. Courtney
- The Best Lawyer You Can Be: A Guide to Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness, by Stewart Levine
- Developing a Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice, by Richard B. Vaughn and Stephanie M. Brinkley
- The Lawyer, the Lion, and the Laundry: Three Hours to Finding Your Calm in the Chaos, by Jamie Jackson Spannhake
1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Service regulations for the protection of human subjects in research, 45 C.F.R. 46.