Health care lawyers represent the major participants in the health care system: physicians and other professional providers, hospitals and other institutional providers (e.g., nursing homes, home health care agencies, etc.), payers (public agencies and private insurance companies), regulators (federal, state, and local), enforcement agencies (federal, state, and local), and patients. The work can be transactional in nature, litigation, or a combination of both. Many health care lawyers specialize in a subspecialty (for example, white collar defense or tax-exempt organizations), although it is common for associates to work across a broad spectrum of the health care field. That spectrum includes the legal rules that shape the organization, financing, and delivery of health care goods and services and the life sciences (drugs and medical devices, medical research, biotechnology, etc.). Most health lawyers are not medical malpractice lawyers; that specialty is usually considered a species of tort/personal injury law. There are exceptions, however, and a solid grounding in health law is increasingly valuable to medical-malpractice practitioners, just as health lawyers need to understand the liability landscape for their clients. 

SMU has a full selection of health law courses from which to choose, as well as a rich complement of related courses that will be valuable in rounding out a health lawyer’s basic education.

Foundation Courses – Introducing the Basic Concepts

  • Law & Medicine: Health Care
  • Law & Medicine: Bioethics
  • Law & Medicine: Medical Malpractice
  • Food & Drug Law
  • International & Comparative Health Law
  • Law, Literature & Medicine
  • Public Health Law & Ethics

Related Courses
Health lawyers work within a highly varied legal environment that places a premium on a broad knowledge base beyond substantive health law. Of particular relevance to a health care practitioner are the courses listed below.

  • Administrative Law
  • Antitrust Law
  • Business Enterprise
  • Constitutional Law II 
  • Employee Benefits Law & ERISA Litigation
  • Intellectual Property
  • Mass Tort Litigation
  • Patent Law
  • Products Liability
  • Science & the Law
  • Trademark & Business Torts
  • White Collar Crime

The prerequisite for health-law externships is completion of, or at least concurrent enrollment in, Law and Medicine: Health Care. Accordingly, to maximize the number of semesters in which an externship can be taken, students should consider taking that course in their second year.

  • Parkland Hospital
  • Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Dallas
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • UT Southwestern Health Center
  • Children's Medical Center Dallas

Public Service Placements

  • Legal Hospice of Texas
  • Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

Here are some of the full-time faculty members who teach or have an interest in this area: