Health law is a rewarding area of law that focuses on the rules and regulations surrounding the healthcare industry and healthcare providers. It can be complex and challenging, as it encompasses regulations like HIPAA and state privacy laws, as well as a range of different types of healthcare facilities.
If you’re interested in health law, find out more about what you can expect from this practice area, how to become a health lawyer, and what these lawyers do each day.
What Is a Health Lawyer and What Do They Do?
A health lawyer represents clients in the healthcare industry, such as healthcare providers and physician practices. They work on corporate matters, capital financing, employee benefits, antitrust issues, contract negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, and physician recruiting.
Health lawyers may also offer guidance for abuse, payment, and fraud issues with Medicare and Medicaid, insurance regulation, and healthcare reform. Broad issues in the legal landscape for health include bioethics issues, informed consent, confidentiality, and risk management.
These lawyers may represent healthcare providers before federal and state agencies or assist with litigation, such as medical malpractice or contract disputes.
Though health lawyers may work for law firms, some work for government agencies and regulatory bodies, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment companies, insurance companies, and hospitals.
Duties of a Health Lawyer
The daily responsibilities of a health lawyer vary based on the focus area but generally include advocating for clients, advising them about healthcare matters, performing legal research, and preparing legal documents.
A lot of a health lawyer’s work is drafting contracts and staying up to date on changes in healthcare statutes, regulations, and case law. Health-focused law firms often have law firm software to ensure efficiencies, such as law practice management software with document management software and secure client communications.
If you want to become a health lawyer, it’s important to be comfortable with the way modern law firms operate — including using legal practice management software and other technology.
How to Become a Health Lawyer
Here are the steps to become a healthcare lawyer:
Attain a Bachelor’s Degree
Before you can attend law school, you must have a bachelor’s degree. There’s no specific bachelor’s requirement in terms of major to enroll in law school, though some law schools look more favorably on candidates with law-related degrees.
For example, if you want to be a health lawyer, having a major in sciences or public health will be helpful. Healthcare management, healthcare leadership, information management, or medical record administration may also be an asset.
Take the LSAT
Once you attain your bachelor’s degree, you can take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). This standardized test evaluates your comprehension, analytical, and reasoning skills with multiple-choice questions and an essay.
The LSAT is a requirement for applying to law schools. Some law schools have a minimum LSAT score, so it’s vital to perform well on the test to get into your top choice.
Obtain a Juris Doctor
Law school takes about three years to complete and covers a range of legal practice areas, legal research and writing, and contract law. In the final two years, you have the option to take electives for public health and medical malpractice law.
Some law schools offer concentrations specific to certain areas of law, including health law, biomedical law, and law and health sciences. When you’ve completed law school successfully, you’ll earn a juris doctor (J.D.).
Take the Bar Exam
To practice law in the US, you have to get licensed by taking and passing the bar in your jurisdiction. State bar exams vary in their difficulty, but it’s important to study hard and prepare to succeed. You will have gained knowledge from law school, but it’s advised to take a prep course.
Consider a Master’s Degree
If you want to deepen your skill set and knowledge, a Master of Laws degree (L.L.M.) can be an asset. You have the option of healthcare or global health law to align with your practice focus. This offers a competitive advantage since some health lawyer jobs will prefer it.
Some of the topics covered in the master’s program include law and science, public health law, and healthcare reform law.
Job Market Outlook for Health Lawyers
Lawyer demand is projected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031. The demand for health lawyers will likely always be high as the healthcare industry rapidly evolves. In the US, healthcare spending accounts for 18.3% of GDP in 2021.
The global healthcare market is expected to reach $665.37 by 2028, with healthcare expenditure expected to reach $6.2 trillion. US healthcare is more expensive than other countries, and if this trajectory continues, it may triple in cost by 2040.
Continued growth and innovation in the industry, particularly with advances like at-home testing and medical wearables, increase the demand for health lawyers to navigate the changing landscape.
Health Lawyer Salary
The national average salary for a health lawyer is $74,651 to $90,102 per year. On the high end, health lawyers can make $114,640 per year. The salary can vary by location, education level, experience level, and job duties.
Best States to Work as a Health Lawyer
Texas is reported to be the best state to work as a health lawyer with a salary of $114,640 per year. Aside from being a large state, Texas is also home to the healthcare hub of Houston, which is home to many medical schools, biotech companies, and healthcare organizations.
Missouri also commands a high salary for health lawyers with a salary of $99,319 per year. Delaware is another high-demand state with a salary of $96,873 per year. It’s also home to a lot of healthcare organizations that offer a challenging and rewarding career.
If you’re interested in working in public health or the healthcare industry as a lawyer, a health attorney is a good choice. With the growing and changing healthcare industry, health lawyers are in demand and have opportunities for promising careers at tech-savvy and forward-thinking firms.
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