Students enrolled in a degree program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law can develop an expertise in the rapidly changing, steadily growing field of health law through the Law School’s Health Law Certificate Program.
Pitt’s program, one of the oldest in the country, is intended to give students interested in health law a basic grounding in the field, complemented by clinical experience and more in-depth study of advanced topics and closely related areas of law. Students are encouraged to obtain the same broad background in law expected of all graduates for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
The health care industry comprises more than one-sixth of the entire economy-larger even than the automobile industry. It is also a large consumer of legal services. Law firms ranging from the largest to the smallest provide legal services to hospitals, health insurance companies, nursing homes, physicians’ practices, home health agencies, and pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, to name some of the more prominent. In addition, many federal and state agencies and many of the larger providers of health care goods and services employ a large number of lawyers in house. Although there are a few areas that are substantively unique-such as Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, certificate of need requirements, and fraud and abuse prohibitions-much of health law involves the application of other areas of law, such as corporate law, employment law, and real estate law, to the health care industry’s special circumstances.
The Health Law Program provides students with a strong foundation in health law that will enable them to practice in a variety of contexts, including law firms, health care management firms and insurers, government, and health care institutions. A combination of classroom and skills components acquaints students with everything from complex business and legal transactions, to bioethics and patient care issues, to the variety of legal issues that arise in the operation of a health care institution. Students gain hands-on experience in these areas through their work in the Law School’s clinics and practicums, and in externships and summer jobs available in the health care setting.
In addition to courses taught by regular law school faculty, leading practitioners in various fields of health law such as fraud and abuse, business transactions, compliance, disabilities law, nonprofit organizations, and privacy teach courses designed to relate theory to practice. In addition, Current Issues in Health Law, a required course for all Health Law Certificate Program students, is taught by renown practitioners of health law and by health care professionals and executives.