Many law schools are thinking about experiential education, and health law would seem to be a great opportunity. There is a bewildering range of ways to implement experiential training, from simulation-based courses, to in-house clinics, along with placement clinics and hybrid clinics, and externships too. Many of these seem to blur together on the margins.
The Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education’s 2010-11 Survey of Applied Legal Education (available on SSRN) found that of the 156 law schools responding, 17 had clinics whose “single predominate substantive focus” was defined as “health law,” which amounts to 1.5% of all clinics in the study. (See p7.) Also listed were 24 “elder law” clinics and 20 “disability law” clinics, which I suspect may overlap. The report also shows 29 field placement programs (out of 145 schools responding), which focus on health law. (See p8.) In particular, I am aware of Harvard’s Health Law and Policy Clinic. And SLU’s excellent health law program places clinic students in hospital settings. I have come across other programs at Pitt, Suffolk, GW, and Northeastern.
We do not have a health law clinic at University of Arizona, but I have helped place my JD students in unofficial externships with the Tucson Family Advocacy Program, a medical-legal partnership that addresses some of the social determinants of health (e.g., a letter to a landlord to stop a roach infestation, to help address chronic child asthma). Some of my students have also externed in the general counsel’s office of our academic hospital. I also like to bring students with me to our clinical bioethics meetings, and some of those interactions have led to research projects and student presentations to the committee. I have also engaged some of our top law students in helping me lead discussion sections for undergrads on some of the big health law cases, such as Jacobson, Griswold, Roe, and Raich. (I firmly believe that teaching is a kind of experiential education, which develops core lawyering skills.)
I would love to hear from our readers in the comments section . Do you know of other experiential education programs that focus on health law? What do you do? What works well?