Health care law continues to grow

Health care law continues to be one of the hottest practice areas, fueled by the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. The field has undergone sweeping changes during the past four years, increasing the need for specialized knowledge. 

In response, health law is now one of the fastest growing areas for graduate and post-graduate degrees, with a number of law schools expanding their health care-related courses. Almost 30 schools offer an LL.M. in health care law.

June Carbone, a law professor at University of Minnesota Law School said the industry is in the middle of enormous change. This includes the digitization of health records, billing for medical outcomes rather than procedures, increased medical tourism and an overall trend of consolidation and specialization, especially due to rising overhead costs.

The implication of these changes creates more work for lawyers, particularly in areas of fraud, insurance and antitrust litigation.

“Attorneys need to pay special attention to the business side of the field,” she said. “You want to know what’s in the future, whether you want to stop it or encourage it. Understand the intersection of business, ethics and government regulation.”

Robert Denney, who publishes an annual “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession,” said Obamacare has increased the number of medical practice mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, biotechnology and patient care research continue to rapidly expand in the U.S. economy.

Richard Hermann, a legal job expert said institutions are hiring attorneys not only for traditional legal offices but also for compliance issues, risk management, contracts and procurement.