Since health care law is a legal subspecialty, recent law school graduates must have the right combination of education and experience to secure employment in the field.
As the premier health law program in the country, SLU LAW's Center for Health Law Studies recognizes that educational experiences in health law must exist both in and out of the classroom. The Health Law Semester in Washington, D.C. provides these experiences.
The health care industry is highly regulated, with substantial regulation occurring at the federal level. In Washington, D.C., law students clerk in a health-related federal agency on a nearly full-time basis for an entire semester.
Additionally, students enroll in a complementary two-credit course, Health Law Agency Practice, addressing both professional responsibility issues that arise in agency practice and advanced topics in administrative law. Students earn a total of 14 credits through this combination of experiential and coursework. Students also gain significant practical experience working with complex health care regulations and begin building a network of contacts within the federal government and in Washington, D.C., in particular.
SLU's Health Law Semester in D.C. Program relies on licensed practitioners employed at the federal agencies where students are placed to act as the supervising attorneys. The supervising attorney will oversee the students' work, assuring that it serves both the educational purpose of the placement and the agency's needs.
The Health Law Semester in D.C. Program also provides an additional layer of professional and career support by matching each student in the program with a D.C.-based mentor. Mentors are selected from SLU LAW alumni working in Washington, D.C.
Placements have included:
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Quality and Safety
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of General Counsel
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Counsel to the Inspector General
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of General Counsel, Public Health Division
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of General Counsel
- U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division
- Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition, Health Care Division
Students participating in the Health Law Semester in D.C. Program are eligible to earn 12 to 14 credits through a combination of experiential and coursework. Students work 30, 33 or 36 hours per week for a full semester at an assigned externship placement to earn 10, 11 or 12 credits, respectively. Additionally, students enroll in a complimentary two-credit course, Health Law Agency Practice, addressing both professional responsibility issues that arise in agency practice and advanced topics in administrative law.
Offered annually during the spring semester, this program is available to students formally pursuing a health law concentration, health law dual-degree or the health law LLM. Additionally, each student is required to have successfully completed Administrative Law, Health Care Law, and Legal Profession prior to their semester in Washington, D.C. A student must also have earned at least 54 credit hours toward their J.D. and have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or better at the time of application to the program, and never have fallen out of good academic standing or been on academic probation while pursuing the J.D.
A supervising attorney will oversee each student’s work, train the student as needed, address issues of professional responsibility that might arise in the course of the student’s work, and communicate with the Center about the student’s performance. Additionally, the program relies on an adjunct professor based in Washington, D.C. with suitable experience and teaching ability to lead the weekly two-credit companion course.
The Health Law Semester in D.C. Program mentors are selected from SLU LAW alumni working in Washington, D.C. The placement supervising attorneys and adjunct professors are not eligible to also act as any student’s mentor.
An attorney-mentor will be expected to meet with their assigned student face-to-face several times throughout the semester, to communicate regularly with the student, and to provide a means by which the student can contact the mentor directly and easily. The mentor provides an invaluable service to the program by ensuring students are having a positive experience; by alerting the Center to challenges a student may be having, and by providing career and professional guidance to students as they work in a professional environment and near the completion of their formal legal training.