From the Interim Dean: Need for Educated Health Law Professionals Never Greater

It is not secret that health law has dominated the news this year. It is an area that affects people in their daily lives and has wide-reaching implications for society. Health is a complex concept that is determined by far more than the simple availability of quality medical care. It is also heavily influenced by access to clean water and nutritious food, substandard housing conditions and unhealthy neighborhoods, mortality rates and prevalence of disease, economic and educational opportunities and much more.dean-hensel

In this environment, the need for educated professionals capable of addressing complex problems in health law has never been greater. Georgia State Law is meeting that need through our award-winning Center for Law, Health & Society. Our J.D. program has consistently ranked among the best in the nation and continues to attract national and international attention. This year, we are expanding our health law offerings to include an LL.M. that equips both domestic and foreign-trained lawyers with the knowledge and skills needed for this demanding field. Both programs are taught by exceptional faculty who are experts in such areas as the opioid epidemic, the Affordable Care Act, food safety and genetic testing. We highlight just a fraction of their work in this issue.

We are exceptionally proud of our innovative Health Law Partnership Legal Services Clinic, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Professors Charity Scott, Sylvia Caley (M.B.A. ’86, J.D. ’89) and Lisa Bliss all have devoted much of their time to making the clinic a success. The clinic is part of a medical-legal partnership in which students in law, medicine, social work and bioethics work collaboratively to provide services to low-income families with children in need of medical care. Students gain experience in representing clients at the same time they positively impact lives in our community.

Georgia State Law also continues to lead the way in providing students not only with an understanding of the law, but also the issues, implications and history behind it. Assistant Professor Courtney Anderson, whose scholarship focuses on preserving affordable housing and eradicating the disparities in low-income and minority communities that exacerbate health issues, is a prime example. Each year, she takes students on a bus tour through Atlanta, contrasting the wealthy neighborhoods with those mired in poverty. Her students also work with local organizations on various projects, such as researching how access to sexual reproductive education could potentially impact the prevalence of HIV in a community.

Finally, if you have not already done so, I encourage you to visit the College of Law to view the “Health is a Human Right” exhibit on display through December. This thought-provoking collection of documents and photos shows the many ways the history of health law and policies has affected — and continues to affect — many lives. It is a powerful reminder of the important role that lawyers and health play in a free society.

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