Health Law & Policy

The Health Law & Policy Concentration provides students with an opportunity to pursue a focused and integrated course of study on issues at the intersection of law, medicine and science.


As the debate over healthcare reform continues, as new medical technologies raise a host of ethical challenges, and as scientific evidence becomes increasingly pervasive in our courtrooms, the need for lawyers trained with an understanding of both our health care system and scientific methods is greater than ever. Concentrating in Health Law & Policy at Hastings offers students a fundamental understanding of the U.S. health care system and basic scientific principles that are necessary for work in this area. The foundation for this understanding begins with three core courses, of which students must take at least two:

  1. Health Care Providers, Patients, and the Law, which focuses on issues of quality control, provider-patient relationships, and liability in the health care environment;
  2. The U.S. Healthcare System & the Law, which focuses on the financing and regulation of the American health care industry, the cost of health care, and barriers to access to health care; or
  3. Science in Law, which examines the ways in which scientific research has been used by courts and legislatures and equips students to bring a sophisticated understanding of science and scientific research to their future work in law and health sciences.

The additional required course, the Law & Health Sciences Concentration Seminar, provides students with the opportunity to delve deeply into a cutting-edge issue related to law and health sciences and draft a seminar paper of publishable quality. Seminar students receive substantial feedback and guidance throughout the semester to help them improve their research, analysis, writing, oral presentation, and editing skills. There is a wide array of courses and clinics related to both health and science now available at Hastings to round out the upper-level concentration requirements.

Students must also take 12 additional units of electives.  Students can choose either of two paths to satisfy the elective requirements. They may choose the “Tracked Approach” or the “Generalist Approach,” both of which are detailed below.  Within the required 22 units, students must also meet a 1-unit bioethics requirement.

Students can elect to take up to 6 units of coursework at UCSF**. Concentrators can participate in research and service opportunities that arise from networking in the Consortium’s broader community of scholars. Faculty members at UC Hastings and UCSF are engaged in a wide range of research projects and are eager to involve concentrators.

The Concentration also offers a range of exciting opportunities for clinical experience, including our flagship acclaimed Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors, the Health Track of the Individual Representation Clinic, or choices among a host of externship options.

Students who are interested in the Concentration should meet with a Concentration Advisor as early in their academic career as possible.  Ideally, a student consults with the Concentration Advisor in the spring of their first year at Hastings regarding selection of courses for the fall 2L semester.  Students who elect the Concentration after that time should meet with the Concentration Advisor as soon thereafter as possible to develop a curricular plan for their second and third years consistent with their educational and career goals.  The advisor can help students balance their plan for specialization with their more general academic goals, such as inclusion of bar courses and satisfaction of UC Hastings requirements.

** UCSF is on a quarter system.  Therefore, six (6) units of UCSF credit converts to four (4) Hastings units.

Concentration Requirements

Note: Please refer to the course catalog for current information on concentration requirements. The following outline is intended as a general guideline and therefore may not be the most up-to-date.

Concentrators must satisfy 22 units of coursework related to law and health, as detailed below.

Concentration Seminar in Law and Health Sciences (2 units):

Students in the seminar will prepare a scholarly research paper which satisfies the Hastings writing requirement and the Health Law & Policy Concentration writing requirement.  Students should complete this course in their third year as a capstone.

Core Courses (minimum 8 units):

Students must take at least two of the following for a grade.  Students who opt to take all three core courses may elect to take the third Pass/Fail:

  • Health Care Providers, Patients, and the Law (4 units)
  • U.S. Healthcare System & the Law (4 units)
  • Science in Law (4 units)

Bioethics Requirement:

(minimum 1 unit, which can be filled by a class qualifying for another requirement) Students can satisfy this requirement in a number of ways, including through Health Care Providers, Patients, and the Law, other electives, an independent study with a faculty member, writing a journal note or seminar paper on a bioethics topic.  (If a course does not have “bioethics” in its title, the student must check with the Concentration Advisor to learn of the proposed unit or course meets the requirement.)

Electives (12 units):

The elective credits must be chosen in consultation with the Concentration Advisor so as to ensure best fit with student learning and career goals.  These requirements can be satisfied by electives from the class lists below, or from courses taken at UCSF (if approved by the Concentration Advisor).  Students selecting the “Tracked Approach” may be able to depart from the course lists below if the Individualized Concentration Plan (ICP) developed with the Concentration Advisor identifies alternatives courses. Students selecting the “Generalist Approach” must select at least 9 of the units from courses, clinics, or seminars listed in Section C.I.   It students take a third Core course (4 units), that course satisfies 4 of the units from Section B.I.  Students can complete concentration requirements by taking 3 units from offerings in Sections C.I or C.II.

All courses taken to satisfy core  Concentration requirements must be taken for a letter grade with one exception.  Concentrators may take one elective class Credit/No Credit.  Students cannot take a Core course Credit/No Credit unless they take all three core courses, in which case the third Core course will be treated as an elective and may be selected as the one course to be taken Credit/No Credit.

Advisor: Professor Sarah Hooper


Approaches to the Curriculum

Students can either chose a particular substantive focus, the “tracked approach,” or take a more broad, generalist approach to their education.

New courses are sometimes added to the curriculum.  Students are advised to check with the Concentration Advisor regarding the eligibility courses not listed here to determine if those courses satisfy concentration requirements.