Healthcare Attorneys Have Invited You to Join the Party


Calling bar-bound professionals exhibiting: communication, research and negotiation skills, organization, flexibility, patience, attention to detail, technological ability, and (duh) interest in healthcare law.

If this sounds like a checklist from your latest personality quiz results, your future could be in healthcare law.


Healthcare attorneys are called upon to complete a variety of legal tasks in the ever-expanding medical world and its related fields. Major categories include:


  • Defend your doctors – Represent physicians and healthcare providers in privilege disputes, investigations, and review hearings
  • Facilitate in pharmaceuticals – Advise on compliance with state and federal regulations and defend in investigations and enforcement actions
  • Counsel the counselors – Represent therapists and social workers during investigations and enforcement actions by their governing board
  • Help healthcare get HIP – Respond to allegations of HIPAA noncompliance or develop compliance practices for physician organizations, long-term facilities, educational institutions, medical billing companies, and software providers


  • Throw the book at them – Business Disputes – Apply knowledge of healthcare compliance and regulatory issues to represent individual providers, medical groups, and facilities in civil disputes
  • Keep healthcare legal – Fraud & Abuse – Draw on knowledge of insurance coverage, Medicare, and healthcare laws to counsel healthcare providers on how to avoid allegations and how to respond when they arise
  • Ensure just deserts – Reimbursement – Represent providers suing to obtain payment and those defending claims that they have been overpaid for health care services


  • Boost Business – New Ventures – Assess regulatory issues and business needs for the complex operations of a healthcare business launch
  • Gauge the Geeks – Technology Agreements – Evaluate the obligations of a business as relating to HIPAA or state privacy laws
  • Help Dr. House get a good contract – Physician-Hospital Agreements – Assist with review, negotiation, and drafting of agreements required by law for hospital departments, nursing facilities, and other centers

Regulatory Defense
Navigate the stormy waters of:

  • Medical Staff Peer Review & Credentialing
  • Medicare Appeals
  • FDA Investigations
  • Facility Licensing


Feel free enjoy the festivities once you have completed the following:

Bachelor’s Degree – 4 Years – Choose a college with a strong health studies curriculum. Combine healthcare classes with a pre-law major. Classes such as philosophy, economics, public speaking, and government are useful for healthcare attorneys. Courses in medical or health science are also recommended to provide a background in healthcare.

Law School – 3 Years – This will require the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Coursework will see you completing such classes as:

  • Health Law
  • Health Law Research
  • Insurance Law
  • Health Care Fraud & Abuse
  • Law & Ethics of Medical Research
  • Healthcare Transactions
  • Health Sector Consulting
  • Health & Human Rights
  • Biomedical Innovation
  • Bioethics

Dual Degree Option – If you really want to make your resume shine, you can obtain a joint law and master of health care administration or public health degree. This will help give you the inside track in the medical world. Stacey A. Tovnio, J.D., Ph.D., director of the Health Law and Policy Center at Drake University Law School, explains why:

“The health care industry is extremely regulated, and health care providers, payers and attorneys who specialize in health law need to be able to collaborate on compliance solutions. The joint-degree programs provide students with these collaborative learning opportunities.”

Experience – Don’t leave law school without getting your feet wet in the healthcare field. Clinical and internship programs will require you to get some experience. Make it count. Seek clerkships with medical groups or firms specializing in healthcare. Volunteer with a public health program, such as the Centers for Disease Control. This will make you more marketable after graduation, as well as reveal which areas you may desire to pursue within healthcare law. As a bonus, you can find out if you look good in one of those face masks.
The Bar Exam – You must pass the written bar examination in whichever state(s) you wish to practice healthcare law. Many states also require a separate written ethics exam. Test anxiety? Don’t worry, the nationwide pass-rate for 2010 was 75%. And, if you do fall in with those other 25%, you can take it again (and again…)


Healthcare attorneys are needed wherever you find healthcare. Settings include:

  • Health care systems
  • Non-profit institutions
  • Large health law firms
  • Health policy organizations
  • Federal and state regulatory agencies
  • Pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology corporations

As for where you land on the payscale, healthcare attorney salaries vary greatly. Payscale.com puts a typical attorney salary at $75,000. However, healthcare attorneys performing work at clinics may be doing a lot of pro bono work, while in-house counsel for a health organization may make as much as $500,000.


It’s hot. Healthcare is one of the largest industries, providing 14.3 million jobs in 2008. It is projected to generate more new jobs between 2008 and 2018 than any other industry. Projected wage increases are also highest for healthcare – twice as much as all other industries combined.
If you are going to practice law, choosing a specialty in healthcare will put you in an industry on the rise. More opportunities, more money. Less unemployment, less living in someone else’s basement while you pay off school loans. These are good things.

The bad things include required training, competition, and break-neck speed. The same things that make this an appealing field also create challenges.

  • 7 years of school + a bar exam
  • A popular industry means more interest in the field, meaning higher demands on job-seekers to out-maneuver the competition. This also results in higher expectations from employers.
  • Any field of law will require an attorney to keep up-to-date on constantly changing laws. In healthcare, with its continued growth and frequent changes and developments, the challenge for attorneys may be great.

Still, we’ve always been told the best answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is doctor or lawyer. Can’t decide? How about healthcare law?

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