Health Law Clinic:
This will be a full-year, full-time clinic offered for 10 credits (5 credits/semester). Students will receive separate letter grades at the end of the year for the clinic work and seminar. The clinic will be open to both day and evening students, including HJD students, in their last two (2) years of law school and Accelerated JD students in their last year.
Students in the Health Law Clinic have traditionally represented low-income individuals with mental and physical disabilities and/or their family members in both litigation and administrative matters such as adult guardianship cases in the Probate & Family Court, alternatives to guardianships like Supported Decision-Making Agreements, appeals of denials of claims for disability benefits before the Social Security Administration, appeals of denials of Personal Care Attendant hours or Durable Medical Equipment before the MassHealth Board of Hearings, and denials of claims for public and private health insurance coverage of needed care. This coming year, the docket of the Health Law Clinic will change as we hire and onboard a new clinician. Nevertheless, we anticipate that students will be involved in some client work, as in years past. In addition, we anticipate the Health Law Clinic will incorporate more work within the medical-legal partnership (MLP) model, in which student attorneys would work alongside healthcare providers to address the root causes of adverse health outcomes and systemic health disparities. Potential MLP projects and matters may include: providing advice and counsel to healthcare teams about their patients' legal needs, drafting legal ethics memos to help MLP's navigate complex business and client relationships, conducting research and drafting written testimony or comments on proposed healthcare regulations and legislation, and drafting amicus briefs in support of health-related appellate cases. In casework and MLP work, students will work both individually and in teams. Students will have the support of clinical faculty but are expected to serve as lead attorneys and take initiative and responsibility for their cases and projects. Students enrolling in the Health Law Clinic for the 2024-25 academic year should be aware that the design and docket of the clinic may differ from years past and will take shape after the clinical application process.
Regardless of the precise design of the Clinic, students will have an opportunity to develop fundamental lawyering skills, closely examine legal ethics in the context of health law practice, as well as expore their professional identities. We anticipate students will hone skills in areas such as client interviewing and counseling, cross cultural competency, legal problem solving, drafting, legal research, prioritization of legal needs, legislative advocacy, and oral and written persuasion. Students will also gain substantive legal knowledge in the relevant areas of health law, including potentially adult guardianship law, benefits law, health privacy and health insurance law.
We will approach our work through a health equity and access to justice lens, with a focus on how legal needs impact individual and population health. We will also approach our cases through a disability rights lens and explore intersectional impacts of poverty, race, and other identities on the social determinants of health (SDOH).
The clinic will be appropriate for students interested in a range of practice areas, but it may be of particular interest to students who wish to pursue careers within the health law field. Past graduates of the Health Law Clinic have gone on to practice health law in large and small firms; work as in-house counsel for insurers, hospitals, and nursing homes; work in leading health policy organizations; work in compliance and data privacy; work for biotech firms; as well as for non-profit legal services organizations and State and Federal government agencies. Graduates also have successfully pursued completely different career paths, including criminal prosecution and defense, family law, corporate law, and many other careers.
Students enrolled in the clinic are required to attend a weekly seminar covering the relevant substantive areas of health-law, disability rights, the social determinants of health (SDOH), lawyering skills, and ethical issues that arise in practice. In addition to the seminar, students are required to attend weekly supervision meetings and to write journal entries critically reflecting on their experiences in the clinic and seminar. Students are required to spend at least 13 hours per week engaged in clinic work – in addition to the time required for the seminar, journal entries, and supervision. Preference will be given to students entering their last year of law school and those who have taken courses in the Health Law Concentration (although those courses are not required). Students must have completed or be currently enrolled in Professional Responsibility. Spanish language skills are also valued. If you have any questions, please contact Clinical Fellow Kate Gannon (she/her) at [email protected]u or Associate Dean Sarah Boonin ([email protected]).