According to the 2018 census, health care is the largest employment sector with over 20 million people working within. With approximately five million people more than the second most popular industry to work in (retail), it is a number that is most likely to grow in the years to come. Indeed, after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, key workers involved in the health care industries have been stretched, leading to further recruitment and hiring in hospitals and surgeries across the country.
But health care means far more than first aid and medical treatment. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), sterilization of tools, and management of medication and pharmaceuticals all fall under this sector. As does healthcare law, which covers all aspects of the legal implications involved with medical treatment; be that mental health, emergency medical health, patient wellbeing, affordability, and health reform.
Intended to protect both the patient and the workers, health care law regulates and ensures that all parties are treated fairly and with the best intentions. Although mistakes can be made, it is the job of healthcare attorneys to ensure that the right parties are always held to account and that measures are taken to prevent reoccurrences. The range of skills in law required is vast, as healthcare itself is a wide-ranging and multi-faceted industry, and so in many places healthcare law will be broken down into subsections; each requiring its own advocate that specializes in that subject.
For example, one of the largest aspects of healthcare treatment is in a patient’s right to anonymity with doctor-patient privilege. This right, established and maintained by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) ensures that medical information that is transferred between professionals is done safely, conducted in a secure way, and only with the written consent of the patient. If this right is violated, an offended party would be encouraged to file a report with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and then seek legal counsel. It should go without saying that a breach of this right, will require a different legal approach than a wrongful death claim by malpractice, which is governed by State law.
It stands to reason that this interesting and complex industry would be alluring to new attorneys and lawyers, and breaking into healthcare law is very much possible. Here are a few tips on how to get into healthcare law.
Take your focus off the law a little
This may surprise you, but having activities outside of law might actually help both you and your reputation. In addition to giving you something to help you relax during your downtime, it can also seek to broaden your horizons.
In order to keep his work fresh, attorney and philanthropist Howard Fensterman, Managing Partner of the law firm of Abrams Fensterman, is also a renowned mineral collector. In addition to his place in the New York law firm, the Long Island attorney has an entire website dedicated to his exploration and study of minerals.
Whilst he also sits on the boards for charities The Chabad of Port Washington and the Long Island chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America respectively, it would be difficult to imagine how he finds the time. However, simply put, the renowned lawyer and mineral enthusiast makes the time, as he knows how important it is to keep his perspective fresh, and have other interests to keep his passion for justice renewed.
Decide which area of healthcare law you want to practice
Again, it bears repeating that health care law is multi-faceted and one cannot account for every type of sector with the industry. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just pick one and run with it. Many lawyers will specialize in multiple types of cases, not only availing themselves to more people in need but also increasing the value of their time. Ultimately, it does pay well to be an attorney–although they do have to work hard for that income.
A reputation across the board is also helpful in that it will keep you busy. After all, the current pandemic and its implications on equipment usage led to a shortage of PPE across the country. This means that workers’ rights to enjoy working in a safe environment were encroached upon and so employment law specialists would have been in high demand. However, before then, as necessary as that field is; those same attorneys would have had a caseload of a different sort–such as malpractice suits. One specialty is not enough, and flexibility is required.
Take the example of Chicago birth injury attorney, David Schwaner. He may have a reputation for looking into injuries that have been incurred in the delivery room to either mother or child, through malpractice, negligence, or accident but his expertise does not stop there. Mr. Schwaner will also take on cases of personal injury, workplace accidents, and compensation claims as a result of car collisions or product injury, amongst others.
This means that as an attorney he is never out of work, but also that he apply law across fields and approach cases from a multitude of angles. Schwaner is a good example to follow, and a highly rated attorney to boot.
Get yourself a good education in Law
This point may seem obvious but it can often be missed. In order to work within healthcare law, you are most likely going to need more than a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification first. In most instances, it takes up to seven years of study after high school to become a lawyer. You will spend four years as an undergraduate earning your bachelor’s, and then a further three years at law school in order to pass the law exams and be accredited with the American Bar Association (ABA).
There are a number of great colleges and universities around the world that will help you get started on your path to becoming a healthcare law expert, and they offer courses that have a Juris Doctor qualification that is accredited by the ABA. But, be warned, it is a lot of hard work and you’ll spend many hours studying that extra employment to get you through college will be limited. But if you can find ways to make money on the side (In Business magazine has a few suggestions online), then you’ll sail through.
If you want to feel like a lawyer, look like a lawyer
Looks aren’t everything, but it really will help both your reputation and your approach if you have a professional-looking office and professional-looking attire to match. Now, you don’t have to break the bank when it comes to either of these things, but put yourself in the shoes of potential clients and ask yourself “would I want this person to represent me in court, based on how they approach their appearances?”
They do matter, so your appearance will need to be spruced up. Plus, it’s a commonly known fact that if you look good, then you feel good, so getting a professional set of clothing or two will help with your confidence. Jackets, shirts, blouses, trousers, pencil skirts, smart shoes, and accessories should be at the top of your list of purchases for your new career. If you shop smartly, such as with WHBM, you’ll find plenty of good deals on clothing which means you can save a little bit of money on treating yourself to your hobbies outside of the law.