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HouseMD

Best School for Health Law (esp. Ottawa vs. UofT)

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Here's the deal folks, I come from a science background and I am, by far, most interested in health law than any other field. However, I am very open-minded and equally intrigued about the different practice options for health law (e.g.,  big law, Gov't policy, in-house work, boutiques, etc.), which I hope with more exposure/research during law school I'll be able to determine.

With that said, I keep reading conflicting views. In the first camp, Ottawa is recommended for its dedicated health law faculty, course offerings, and, of course, their Center for Health Law, Ethics, and Policy. The second camp believes that employment-wise, it matters less where you go to school than how well you do and the experiences you gain during school; hence, other factors such as campus location, school culture, etc. are the decisive factors. I would like to hear from you.

I applied to the following: Ottawa, UofT, Osgoode, Western, Queen's, Windsor, and UBC.

Stats: 3.80 cGPA, 3.83 B2, 3.86 B3, and 165 LSAT. Good (but not spectacular) extra-curriculars and references.

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When you say you're "by far most interested in health law", what are you referring to?  What do you think "health law" is? Do you want to work in medical malpractice litigation and sue doctors (or defend doctors against lawsuits)? Do you want to work in personal injury / insurance litigation where you'll read people's medical records all day long? Do you want to forego practice all together and work in health policy, crafting legislation that you feel will promote health and well being?

At the end of the day, you can do those things anywhere. And FYI - the "Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Policy" probably won't teach you a single thing about medical malpractice or insurance litigation.

(As an aside - I also have a health sciences background and went to school hoping to work in "health law". By total chance I landed in insurance defence litigation and I enjoy it. It's also much more health-centric than I ever thought my job would be. Feel free to DM me if you have specific questions about this area of law or anything like that.) 

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20 hours ago, HouseMD said:

Here's the deal folks, I come from a science background and I am, by far, most interested in health law than any other field. However, I am very open-minded and equally intrigued about the different practice options for health law (e.g.,  big law, Gov't policy, in-house work, boutiques, etc.), which I hope with more exposure/research during law school I'll be able to determine.

With that said, I keep reading conflicting views. In the first camp, Ottawa is recommended for its dedicated health law faculty, course offerings, and, of course, their Center for Health Law, Ethics, and Policy. The second camp believes that employment-wise, it matters less where you go to school than how well you do and the experiences you gain during school; hence, other factors such as campus location, school culture, etc. are the decisive factors. I would like to hear from you.

I applied to the following: Ottawa, UofT, Osgoode, Western, Queen's, Windsor, and UBC.

Stats: 3.80 cGPA, 3.83 B2, 3.86 B3, and 165 LSAT. Good (but not spectacular) extra-curriculars and references.

Typo in stats? B2 cannot be lower than B3. Did you mean 3.83 B3, 3.86 B2? 

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@beyondsection17 thank you for your detailed response. I feel very intrigued to many of the diverse practices of health law, and I see myself happily doing malpractice and insurance litigation, policy drafting, and I can go as far as IP work as it relates to medical equipment and pharma/biotech. I know enough to know that there’s plenty more for me to learn about the day-to-day work of each of these practices, which is my objective in the coming years.


But for the purposes of admission, I want to keep all the above options open until I decide. I gather that your view is that I can do all of the above anywhere. So I shouldn’t be particularly tempted by the proclaimed health specialization in Ottawa or the prestige of UofT/Osgoode to big law employers when making my decision?

Thank you, I may take you up on that if I have pressing questions! 

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2 hours ago, Lawstudent97 said:

Typo in stats? B2 cannot be lower than B3. Did you mean 3.83 B3, 3.86 B2? 

Good catch, I actually meant L2 instead of B2. 

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13 hours ago, beyondsection17 said:

When you say you're "by far most interested in health law", what are you referring to?  What do you think "health law" is? Do you want to work in medical malpractice litigation and sue doctors (or defend doctors against lawsuits)? Do you want to work in personal injury / insurance litigation where you'll read people's medical records all day long? Do you want to forego practice all together and work in health policy, crafting legislation that you feel will promote health and well being?

At the end of the day, you can do those things anywhere. And FYI - the "Centre for Health Law, Ethics and Policy" probably won't teach you a single thing about medical malpractice or insurance litigation.

(As an aside - I also have a health sciences background and went to school hoping to work in "health law". By total chance I landed in insurance defence litigation and I enjoy it. It's also much more health-centric than I ever thought my job would be. Feel free to DM me if you have specific questions about this area of law or anything like that.) 

Honest question: Do you know what they do teach at these schools that advertise a focus on Health Law? I'm interested in the subjects, in principle, while completely acknowledging as a 0L that I have no idea what health law actually is. As such it would be good to know whether these faculties actually have anything to offer at all that would actually be useful to legal practice, or whether it's all just marketing.

-GM

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I'd strongly reccomend Dal if you're interested in health law. I'm surprised it's not on your list.

(1)They have a Health Law Institute that offers health law seminars every month or so, among other health law opportunities including a health law blog that publishes student work; (2) They offer a combined degree where you can get a JD and a Master of Health Administration, if that's something you're interested in; (3) within the JD, they offer a specialization in Health Law and Policy, and I'm pretty sure that they offer the largest range of health law courses of all law schools in Canada. Check out their website for the exact courses offered and to get a sense of what health law actually looks like in law school. And (4) the health law research is incredible. Jocelyn Downie sticks out as one faculty member who has made a huge difference in MAiD (medical assistance in dying) policy, and Joanna Erdman is the most interesting woman I've ever met with her abortion rights work abroad. And the "Advanced Negligence: Medical Malpractice" course is an upper-year favourite.

I've been fortunate enough to land summer jobs related to health law every year as a Dal law student - feel free to message me if you want to know more about it as I don't want to give away too much here. 

Edit: grammar

Edited by Laracroft
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On 12/30/2019 at 5:27 PM, Laracroft said:

I'd strongly reccomend Dal if you're interested in health law. I'm surprised it's not on your list.

(1)They have a Health Law Institute that offers health law seminars every month or so, among other health law opportunities including a health law blog that publishes student work; (2) They offer a combined degree where you can get a JD and a Master of Health Administration, if that's something you're interested in; (3) within the JD, they offer a specialization in Health Law and Policy, and I'm pretty sure that they offer the largest range of health law courses of all law schools in Canada. Check out their website for the exact courses offered and to get a sense of what health law actually looks like in law school. And (4) the health law research is incredible. Jocelyn Downie sticks out as one faculty member who has made a huge difference in MAiD (medical assistance in dying) policy, and Joanna Erdman is the most interesting woman I've ever met with her abortion rights work abroad. And the "Advanced Negligence: Medical Malpractice" course is an upper-year favourite.

I've been fortunate enough to land summer jobs related to health law every year as a Dal law student - feel free to message me if you want to know more about it as I don't want to give away too much here. 

Edit: grammar

Thank you for your suggestion. That sounds very appealing to me for sure. Frankly I haven’t looked into schools outside of ON except UBC. I’m not too late to apply to Dal now, so I’m seriously looking into it now. 
 

In your experience, did your classmates ever find it substantially more difficult to land jobs in ON compared to their Ontarian counterparts? I will privately message you about this in more detail, but I was thinking others may benefit from seeing this if they’re in a similar position as myself. 

Thank you for your help! 

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23 hours ago, HouseMD said:

In your experience, did your classmates ever find it substantially more difficult to land jobs in ON compared to their Ontarian counterparts? 

Dal likes to call itself the "national law school" because students from all over Canada come here. I think that 50% of the class has to come from the Atlantic provinces (NS, NL, NB and PEI) but the rest of us are from all over the place, with a big portion from ON and BC.

Being from Ontario myself and having had success landing jobs in Ontario, I would say that students are at no major disadvantage if they attend Dal and want to work in ON. I think we had something like 20 major Toronto law firms and government offices do OCIs in Halifax (OCIs are On-Campus Interviews - a short interview that takes place on campus during the first semester of 2L which decides if you make it to the next interview at the firm in November). That these firms are willing to fly all the way out here to interview us demonstrates that Dal students are very well regarded in Toronto. As well, the CDO (Career Development Office) very recently started organizing a 2 day tour of Toronto firms for 1Ls where you get to visit ~20 law firms before the 2L application cycle. Obviously studying in a different province makes networking more difficult than it otherwise would be, but the opportunities to network are there. You just have to be proactive about it. One recruiter actually joked that he loves hearing from Dal students because we're much calmer than our Ontario-based counterparts, being so geographically removed from the mess that is the 2L recruit 😂

I know that a major piece if advice 0Ls receive on this site is to "study where you want to practice." I can't speak to the truth of this for every school but I would say that Dal is a definite exception. 

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I work in a government office in Toronto and we have many Dal alumni here. I definitely do not think you are at a disadvantage by going there. 

However, you can go to any law school and practice any area of law. 

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4 hours ago, Laracroft said:

Dal likes to call itself the "national law school" because students from all over Canada come here. I think that 50% of the class has to come from the Atlantic provinces (NS, NL, NB and PEI) but the rest of us are from all over the place, with a big portion from ON and BC.

Being from Ontario myself and having had success landing jobs in Ontario, I would say that students are at no major disadvantage if they attend Dal and want to work in ON. I think we had something like 20 major Toronto law firms and government offices do OCIs in Halifax (OCIs are On-Campus Interviews - a short interview that takes place on campus during the first semester of 2L which decides if you make it to the next interview at the firm in November). That these firms are willing to fly all the way out here to interview us demonstrates that Dal students are very well regarded in Toronto. As well, the CDO (Career Development Office) very recently started organizing a 2 day tour of Toronto firms for 1Ls where you get to visit ~20 law firms before the 2L application cycle. Obviously studying in a different province makes networking more difficult than it otherwise would be, but the opportunities to network are there. You just have to be proactive about it. One recruiter actually joked that he loves hearing from Dal students because we're much calmer than our Ontario-based counterparts, being so geographically removed from the mess that is the 2L recruit 😂

I know that a major piece if advice 0Ls receive on this site is to "study where you want to practice." I can't speak to the truth of this for every school but I would say that Dal is a definite exception. 

Amazing, thank you for clarifying! That sounds very reassuring

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As has already been stated in this thread by @beyondsection17 "Health Law" is not an area of law at all. Really it is just an umbrella description for a bunch of different legal concepts and topics that are all related to health but not necessarily related to each other and influence very diverse areas of law. 

  • If you are a solicitor who does estate planning you will do some "health law" related to incapacity planning, capacity assessment, etc.
  • The relationship with personal injury, med mal, and insurance defence is obvious. Aside from the obvious ambulance and quack chasing, there are some historic class actions related to healthcare that are pretty interesting (see for example https://kmlaw.ca/cases/schedule-1-institutions/)
  • You could do employment law and end up representing health care practitioners.  
  • You could do criminal law and end up doing a lot of NCR/psychiatric defense files. 
  • You could represent people in the context of psychiatric detention and the consent & capacity board (I don't know what career path people take to end up doing that type of work but it is definitely interesting).  
  • You could be a legal clinic lawyer and 60% of what you do in Ontario could be ODSP appeals. Or, you could actually work at one of Ontario's specialty legal clinics related to health law (ACE, ARCH, etc.) With theories of the "social determinants of health" being popular you can frame anything related to income security as, arguably, a form of health law. 
  • You could be a corporate lawyer or an in-house lawyer and represent massive health care businesses/institutions. 
  • You could be an IP lawyer and work for clients who do medical device stuff. 
  • You could be a family lawyer and end up specializing in weird embryo/egg/sperm/reproductive agreements and disagreements. 
  • Government lawyer working for the Ministry of Health, PGT etc.

These things are all wildly different. First step is to decide what exactly interests you from the above list (which is not exhaustive), but focus more on the actual area of law and not the "health law" slant to it, because 99% of your time will have little to do with "health" in all likelihood. I would recommend going to school in the province you want to practice in. Osgoode has some good intensive programs and upper year courses related to some of the above.

Edited by BringBackCrunchBerries
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On 12/30/2019 at 6:27 PM, Laracroft said:

I'd strongly reccomend Dal if you're interested in health law. I'm surprised it's not on your list.

(1)They have a Health Law Institute that offers health law seminars every month or so, among other health law opportunities including a health law blog that publishes student work; (2) They offer a combined degree where you can get a JD and a Master of Health Administration, if that's something you're interested in; (3) within the JD, they offer a specialization in Health Law and Policy, and I'm pretty sure that they offer the largest range of health law courses of all law schools in Canada. Check out their website for the exact courses offered and to get a sense of what health law actually looks like in law school. And (4) the health law research is incredible. Jocelyn Downie sticks out as one faculty member who has made a huge difference in MAiD (medical assistance in dying) policy, and Joanna Erdman is the most interesting woman I've ever met with her abortion rights work abroad. And the "Advanced Negligence: Medical Malpractice" course is an upper-year favourite.

I've been fortunate enough to land summer jobs related to health law every year as a Dal law student - feel free to message me if you want to know more about it as I don't want to give away too much here. 

Edit: grammar

Also Françoise Baylis and the bioethics department more generally.

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