Health Law

Health Law

The Health Law Concentration at Albany Law School combines bioethics, lawyering skills and policy development, helping students to gain the intellectual foundation and practical experience needed for career success in the health law field.

Albany Law is training experts in the legal, ethical and policy programs posed by the health science in the 21st century. Our students and alumni are becoming leaders in areas such as bioethics, managed care, health policy and advocacy, and intellectual property issues in biotechnology.

Within the Health Law program we offer a J.D./M.S. joint degree in law and bioethics, one of only two law schools in the U.S. that offer the option to complete such a program in just three years.

In addition, Albany is a world leader in nanotechnology, neural imaging, biodefense, brain computer devices, newborn screening, and health policy.

Practical Experience

Early on students work with a specific health law issue with a faculty member, learning to read, write and research like lawyer. Students also represent a client from interview to summary judgment to appeal.

Advanced courses in areas such as trial practice, interviewing, mediation and negotiation combine instruction and hands-on practice to build important skills.

Through the Health Law Clinic, students represent clients who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer or other chronic medical conditions and have legal problems related to their medical conditions. Through the Civil Rights and Disabilities Law Clinic they represent clients with developmental disabilities in legal matters.

Requirements

24 credits with 15 credits from the following courses:

  • Title
  • Type
  • Credits
  • Examines application of the antitrust law to healthcare activities, including restrictions on healthcare advertising, enforcement of trade association ethical rules, peer review by hospitals, provider-payer relationships, physician joint ventures, and hospital mergers. ​

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    This problem-solving course in health policy will integrate doctrinal instruction with experiential learning.  Students will learn substantive law and skills by participating in a variety of simulated exercises.  Students will also attend meetings held, for example, at Albany Medical Center, the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, and the New York State Department of Health. These meetings will give students exposure to the real-life workings of the health care system and an opportunity to determine how to approach a legal issue and give appropriate, practical advice.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​Explores bioethics issues such as clinical decision making, informed consent, organ donation and transplantation, physician assisted suicide, ethics in managed care, death and dying, and medical research.

  • Covers the federal healthcare fraud protection laws relating to false claims, kickbacks, physician self-referrals, and hospital emergency treatment requirements. Examines the unique ways in which the healthcare industry is regulated to protect consumers and the federal healthcare programs (Medicare and Medicaid) from fraud.​

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    ​Describes the medico-legal paradigm within which genetic technologies are presently pursued or restricted. Discusses the scientific basis of the genetic technologies providing students with basic appreciation of potential issues and a guide to the scientific, rather than the legal, literature related to the growing area of genomics. The course will be organized along six areas of the law: criminal law, family and property law, tort law, insurance law, labor law, and intellectual property law. No science background is required.

  • ​Examines the structure and financing of our healthcare system, focusing on Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance.  Examines issues related to managed care, regulation of employer health benefit plans, and how health reform deals with the issue of the growing uninsured population.

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    ​This survey course covers several topics essential to an understanding of the health-care system and the issues confronting health-care lawyers today. The topics are: health-care delivery systems; quality of and access to health care (including medical malpractice, institutional liability, and allocation of health-care resources); health-care professionals' rights and responsibilities (including professional licensure/discipline and institutional peer review); and patients' rights (including informed consent, advance directives, surrogate decisionmaking, research involving human subjects, determination of death, and anatomical gifts).​

  • The Health Law Clinic is designed to teach student interns to identify and address the legal issues which poor individuals living with chronic health conditions often face.  Through faculty supervised representation of clients living with, or affected by, HIV or cancer, participating students acquire a broad range of practical lawyering skills in the areas of client interviewing, factual investigation, case planning, client counseling, and litigation advocacy.  Student interns are admitted to practice under the Student Practice Rule which allows them to help clients access necessary health care, obtain public benefits, secure or maintain stable housing, establish court-approved emergency plans for the future care of children, and develop proxies which authorize health care agents to make health decisions.  Participating interns typically take from this experience both a heightened confidence in their lawyering abilities and a broader perspective of their role in ensuring access to justice for the needy.  Clinic clients typically report that the legal services provided relieve stress and allow them to focus their limited energy on their underlying health problems.

    Pre/Co-Requisite: None​​​​

  • ​Discusses the moral and legal issues concerning both ordinary and assisted reproduction. Covers constitutional and common law doctrine on reproductive liberty, government regulation, and medical control over procreative choice, the reproductive autonomy of minors, the effects of advances in cell biology on reproductive issues, and the rights and responsibilities of gamete contributors.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    Focuses on in-class presentations by students on legal and ethical issues present in the medical records of hypothetical obstetrical or gynecological patients. Law students work in teams with resident physicians in obstetrics and gynecology.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    Focuses on professional liability and cases concerning numerous health-care professionals, including physicians. In addition, students study statutory reforms enacted to modify the common law so as to decrease the costs of malpractice liability. Explores the relationship between malpractice and professional misconduct. Institutional liability is addressed as a complement to (and possibly a future replacement for) professional liability.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​The laws governing people with mental illness, mental retardation and other cognitive disabilities straddle the fault lines between individual liberty, the obligation to protect those who are incapacitated, and the desire to safeguard us from those whom we deem dangerous.  This Seminar will provide an overview of the civil laws and policies reflecting these often conflicting goals.  We will cover subjects of importance to general legal practice, as well as to the representation of folks with mental disabilities. 

  • ​Examines the non-profit regulatory environment and the role non-profits play in our economy and culture. Explores state and federal regulation and how it compares to for-profit corporations and governmental agencies. Provides in-depth coverage of the many compliance standards imposed on organizations seeking to obtain and maintain exempt status.

  • ​Provides an in-depth examination of the healthcare information privacy and security requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Gives students practice in interpreting and applying the statute to assist clients with privacy questions and problems.

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    ​Explores role of government in protecting and promoting public health and safety. Examines legitimacy of public health activities and explores sources of authority for public health action. Introduces the sciences of biostatistics and epidemiology.

  • ​This course will explore the origins of the current healthcare crisis, systematically examine some of the current methods for containing healthcare spending, and probe whether those methods are successful and equitable. The course will also explore the government's role in dealing with bioethical issues regarding, inter alia, physician assisted suicide, reproductive technologies, cloning, stem cell research, and organ transplantation.

  • The number of elderly Americans is projected to increase significantly over the next few decades. Life expectancy is still increasing; the economy and job growth are sluggish; millions of Americans lack adequate health insurance; health care costs are rising at a rate far higher than the general inflation rate; and the Administration and state governments are attempting to implement the Affordable Care Act in the face of budgetary constraints and implacable opposition from certain groups. In view of these factors, issues involving retirement planning, health care and the elderly will continue to be important for the foreseeable future, and will offer public and private job opportunities to our graduates. Accordingly, I think that it would be beneficial for us to offer a course that will give them a solid introduction to these topics without excessive duplication of issued already adequately covered in other courses. The new course will replace the existing Employee Benefits course which we have offered for many years, though not every year.

    The course will cover:

    1.      Federal pension law under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code;

    2.      Social Security and Medicare coverage and benefits, including policy and financial issues; and

    3.       The major new rules under the Affordable Care Act relating to access to health care, how health care is provided and financed, patient protections, employer-provided benefits  and quality improvement.

No more than 9 of the 24 credits from the following courses:

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    Examines fundamental and practical issues of federal and New York administrative law. Deals with the scope of power of administrative agencies and the relationship of such agencies to other branches of government. ​​​

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    Examines legal and economic concepts of monopoly and monopolization, and integration of previously independent firms through horizontal, vertical, and conglomerate mergers under federal antitrust laws. ​

  • Elective
    Credits: 4

    ​Discusses formation and organization of basic business organizations. Examines structure, finance, management, and control of business enterprises; rights and liabilities of owners, fiduciaries, and third parties; shareholder informational rights, shareholder suits and issuance of shares; and introduces problems of close corporations and state statutory and administrative regulations.

  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    Children and the Law examines the distribution of power and interactions among the child, the family, and various state agencies. The course will explore the constitutional, statutory and common law rights of parents and children in various settings, including the child welfare system, the juvenile delinquency system, persons in need of supervision and the foster care system. Students will learn the different approaches for the role of the child’s attorney and analyze best practices for representing children in a wide range of legal matters, including tort law, contract law, criminal law, family law. The classroom is primarily lecture-based with opportunities to participate in classroom simulations, petition-drafting, and small group activities. ​

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​Provides an overview of legal and policy questions relating to aging individuals and an older and aging society.

  • ​Studies the establishment, operation, and regulation of retirement planning options under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Includes in-dept analysis of deferred compensation plans (qualified and non-qualified), stock options, pension and profit sharing plans, and employer-provided health benefits.
  • Elective
    Credits: 3

    ​Family Law examines state regulation and intrusion into the family and the constitutional limitations and rights therein. The course will introduce students to the primary triad of interests: the parents, the child and the state. Additionally, the course will introduce students to the evolution of families and how family law has responded to social change. Topics will include the varying definitions of a "family", the legal relationships between parent and child, the nature of marriage and civil unions, family after separation or divorce, child custody, paternity/maternity, child support, child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, the foster care system, adoption, domestic violence, reproductive rights, privacy, gender and caretaking, and the role of the family court system. Further, the course will examine issues of intersectionality based upon race and socioeconomic class. The classroom is primarily lecture-based with opportunities to participate in classroom simulations, petition-drafting, and small group activities.

  • ​This course provides an introduction to practical topics in estate and financial planning, including advance directives for financial management and health care decisions, long term care planning, revocable living trusts and retirement plans. In lieu of an examination, Financial Planning for the Elderly involves a project. Students form teams of two and three (though it is permissable to work alone) and prepare a plan for a hypothetical single person, taking into account all relevant gift and income tax and non-tax factors. The project includes draft documents and an explanatory cover letter to the hypothetical client. This course is designed to provide an experience transferable to practice.

    Prerequisite: Trusts and Estates

     
  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​Examines legal issues involved in guardianship for minors and adults unable to make decisions for themselves.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​Focuses on statutes and decisions governing transfer and risk distribution of potentially harmful events. Examines contract law and considers the business of insurance from the standpoint of regulators, courts, insurers and consumers.

  • ​Surveys the legal problems in areas such as public assistance, housing, health, and education and special problems of defined groups.

  • Elective
    Credits: 2

    ​This course explores the evolution and application of various theories of liability (negligence, misrepresentation, breach of warranty, and strict liability) that may be asserted against manufacturers and other sellers of dangerous products. In addition to covering the basic doctrine of products liability law, the course addresses questions facing the practitioner attempting to prosecute or to defend a products liability claim: problems of procedure, proof, evidence, choice of theories of recovery, and alternative remedies.

At least one of the following clinics or field placements:

  • ​The Civil Rights and Disabilities Law Clinic provides law students with a rewarding opportunity to serve clients and develop professional skills.  Under faculty supervision, students represent clients in various administrative forums and state and federal courts.  Many clients are individuals with disabilities who are struggling against systemic barriers that interfere with their civil rights and independence.  Clinic students assist their clients in removing those barriers.  Through simulated exercises and the representation of clients, student interns will develop the skills necessary to be effective attorneys: persuasion, drafting, alternative dispute resolution, negotiation, interviewing, counseling, fact investigation, and trial practice.  Students will also have the opportunity to successfully navigate complicated bureaucracies and negotiate with local, state, and federal officials.  ​​​​

  • Dozens of field placement opportunities exist for second- third-year students. They spend a minimum of 10 hours per week​​ at their field placement site and participate in a one-hour weekly seminar.

    Note that most field placement​s need to be topic related and approved by a concentration advisor to count toward a degree.

  • The Health Law Clinic is designed to teach student interns to identify and address the legal issues which poor individuals living with chronic health conditions often face.  Through faculty supervised representation of clients living with, or affected by, HIV or cancer, participating students acquire a broad range of practical lawyering skills in the areas of client interviewing, factual investigation, case planning, client counseling, and litigation advocacy.  Student interns are admitted to practice under the Student Practice Rule which allows them to help clients access necessary health care, obtain public benefits, secure or maintain stable housing, establish court-approved emergency plans for the future care of children, and develop proxies which authorize health care agents to make health decisions.  Participating interns typically take from this experience both a heightened confidence in their lawyering abilities and a broader perspective of their role in ensuring access to justice for the needy.  Clinic clients typically report that the legal services provided relieve stress and allow them to focus their limited energy on their underlying health problems.

    Pre/Co-Requisite: None​​​​

Research Paper:

Written under faculty supervision on a relevant aspect of health law. Must qualify for the Law School's upperclass writing requirement, and may or may not be used to satisfy that requirement.

(Effective November 6, 2012)

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