Students interested in the Health Law Pathway begin by taking the required first year law curriculum. In the remaining years, students can take a combined course of study with upper level law courses, public health courses, a health-related externship, and a health-focused writing project.
First Year Courses
All students take the required core J.D. first year curriculum.
Second and Third Year Courses
Note that not all classes are offered every semester.
The course will focus on two sets of issues: First, a range of current medical, legal, ethical issues will be examined – right to die, right to treatment, organ transplant, assisted reproduction (IVF), rights of handicapped individuals, parental control, and the continuing debate surrounding abortion and contraception. Second, we will examine a range of physician and hospital malpractice issues including discussion of issues arising in the context of medical research.
This course will explore professional issues involved in representing elderly clients as well as key statutes and regulations of particular importance to seniors. Topics of study will include, among other things, ethical issues in representing elders; age discrimination; income maintenance and the social security system; access to health care and the role of Medicare and Medicaid; senior housing (including nursing home and assisted living issues); advance planning and guardianship; and elder abuse and neglect. Particular attention will be paid to the impact that cognitive and physical impairments can have on legal rights and the ability to exercise those rights.
Providers of health care operate within a complex set of federal laws and regulations governing their delivery of care and relationships with other providers. This course will explore the practical application of some of the major federal laws affecting health care providers, including fraud and abuse laws, legal obligations to provide care, and constraints on private health insurers. It will also seek to place these laws in a historical context that considers the perceived problems they seek to address, their implications (foreseen or otherwise) for providers and payors, and how they have evolved over time, up through and including the Affordable Care Act.
This course will focus on several areas. First, it will explore the federal regulation of products covered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) including food, drugs, and medical devices. Second, it will review the state, local, federal, and common law regulation of food, stressing both historical evolution and cutting edge policy issues such as GMOs, ‘fair trade’ regulations, and legal issues connected with the locavore movement (such as conflicts between local and state regulations).
The course examines the goals of the U.S. health care system, which is designed to provide high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care. We will explore the regulation of health care professionals and institutions. The course will also discuss the contract, tort, and administrative law issues that come up in cases of informed consent, liability, malpractice, and end-of-life care. The course will also examine legal efforts to make health care affordable and accessible. We will study the regulation of both public and private insurance systems and use basic insurance principles to explore this area of law. Health law is complex for many reasons, including because it involves the interactions of state and federal statutes (and regulations) with longstanding principles of contract and tort law. The intersections between state and federal statutes and policies are also challenging. The 2010 Affordable Care Act will of course be a focus of the course.
Accelerated Dual Degree J.D./M.P.H. Program
In addition, students may choose to apply to the Accelerated Dual Degree J.D./M.P.H. Program with the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine. Students can complete both degrees in 4 years with summer study and will meet the requirements for each degree through the cross-counting of pre-approved courses. Students in the J.D./M.P.H. program can take courses within the M.P.H. program at the Muskie School of Public Service, such as American Health System, Social and Behavioral Health, Introduction to Epidemiological Research, and Environmental Health.
Many of our alumni have stimulating, satisfying careers in health care law, and this dual degree ensures that the Law School sustains the much-needed pipeline to the health law and policy profession.
Experiential and Other Learning Opportunities
- Consumers for Affordable Health Care
- Intermed P.A.
- Maine Medical Association
- Mercy Hospital
- Penobscot Community Health Program
- Create your own externship
Writing Competitions in Health Law:
Students also have multiple opportunities to enter writing competitions on the subject of health law.