Health Law Externship Program offers practical experience
More than two dozen health law students have recently gained hands-on, practical legal experience working for nonprofit health care organizations as part of BU Law’s Health Law Externship Program.
Externships are one-semester clinical programs in which students work for credit at nonprofit health care organizations, which can include hospitals, NGOs and government agencies. Students also participate in a weekly seminar examining various health law issues.
“By my third year I had taken a lot of health law classes and I wanted some hands-on practical experience to see how the law works in the real world,” said Dennis Coyne (’11). His externship with University of Massachusetts Medical Center enabled him to “work on all manner of the law,” including issues such as employment law, patient care, guardianship, informed consent and contracts.
The experience was an eye-opener. “Whereas you might have weeks or months to research and write about an issue in class, with the externship program we were dealing with real-world issues in which I might have a couple of hours to research and write something,” he said. “It was a great experience.”
Lia Mulligan (’11) externed at Children’s Hospital in Boston, where she worked for the chief counsel for research affairs on issues at the intersection of medical ethics and the law, such as human subject research and genetics. She also drafted consulting agreements between doctors and outside entities.
“If you have an interest in health law, you’re not going to find a better program, a better law school with more professors who will help you, or a better city. Boston is the health capital of the country,” she said.
Alex Freundlich (’12), who was able to pursue his strong interests in policy issues and administrative law during his externship at the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, said externships give students an advantage when they enter the job market.
“It’s my experience that employers care a lot about your real work experience as well as your various accomplishments in school,” he said. “The externship validates that your academic experience can translate into success in the real world.”