Health Law Courses

The courses listed below provide a taste of the Health Law courses offered at the Law School, although no formal groupings exist in our curriculum. This list includes the courses taught in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. Not all of these courses are offered every year, but this list will give you a representative sample of the variety of courses we might offer over any two-year period. Other new courses will likely be offered during your time at the Law School.

PLEASE NOTE: This page does not include courses for the current academic year. To browse current course offerings, visit my.UChicago.

Students interested in Health Law can also earn a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy through the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy.

Big Problems

The Big Problems course will use multidisciplinary approaches to try to understand and tackle the most important problems facing our country or the world. The first 8 weeks will be taught by the instructors and outside experts, focusing on problems such as the Zika virus, Syrian migration to Europe, cybersecurity, nuclear waste storage, opioid addiction, sex trafficking, and policing and race relations. Students will work in teams of 2 business and 2 law students to develop feasible policy or private sector solutions to a problem of their choosing and make a presentation in the last 2 weeks. Presentations will be made to instructors, outside experts and fellow students. Final grade will be based on the presentations and a companion paper (20-25 pages). Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2020, David Weisbach and Anup Malani
  • Spring 2019, David Weisbach, Anup Malani, Robert Topel, and Kevin Murphy
  • Spring 2018, David Weisbach, Anup Malani, Robert Topel, and Kevin Murphy

Bioethics

This lecture course will introduce you to the field of Bioethics. We will use a case-based method to study how different philosophical and theological traditions describe and defend differences in moral choices in contemporary bioethics. This class is based on the understanding that case narratives serve as the motivation for the discipline of bioethics and that complex ethical issues are best considered by a careful examination of the competing theories as they work themselves out in specific cases. We will examine both classic cases that have shaped our understanding of the field of bioethics and cases that are newly emerging, including the case of research done at Northwestern University. Through these cases, we will ask how religious traditions both collide and cohere over such topics as embryo research, health care reform, terminal illness, issues in epidemics and public health, and our central research question, synthetic biology research.

This class will also explore how the discipline of bioethics has emerged to reflect upon such dilemmas, with particular attention to the role that theology philosophy, law, public health, and religious studies have played in such reflection. We will look at both how the practice of different disciplines has shaped the field of bioethics and in particular at how different theological and philosophical claims, methodology, and praxis have continued to shape and inflect bioethics. We will examine the issue of epistemic stance, of truth claims, and of how normative policies are created amid serious controversy. We will explore the nature of the relationship between religion and public policy and study how religious traditions and moral philosophy shape our view of issues as "bioethics controversies" to be addressed.

Previously:

  • Spring 2020, Laurie Zoloth, Ranana Leigh Dine, Daniel Takarabe Kim, and Miriam Yonati Attia

Corporate Law and Dual-Purpose Organizations

Organizations pursuing multiple objectives-including social, financial, and environmental goals-are on the rise, particularly in the healthy food and health sectors. However, managing the inherent tensions among these objectives poses a serious challenge. In light of this trend, this course takes an interdisciplinary approach to re-examining the theory of the firm from both a legal and a management perspective. It asks whether and how law-especially corporate law and contract law-can accommodate "purpose." Drawing from the legal and management literatures, including sociology, organizational theory, and economics, it explores the distinctions between how law treats these topics and how business treats these topics. The course uses the healthy food and health sectors to examine these questions. For example, how can a purpose-driven healthy food company retain its purpose and profit objectives after it is acquired by a non-purpose-driven company? How do for-profit hospitals differ from non-profit hospitals-and how should they? The course breaks down our assumptions about what firms are in order to better understand how they are currently treated and how they should be going forward. This class requires a series of reaction papers. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2020, Emilie Aguirre

Environmental Law: Air, Water, and Animals

This survey course explores the major domestic policies in place to protect the environment, with a focus on clean air and water and animal conservation (e.g., the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act). The course is a complement to Professor Templeton's Toxic Torts and Environmental Justice course; neither is a prerequisite for the other, and the two share little overlap. We'll spend some time on the regulation of climate change and will discuss issues of environmental justice embedded in each of the major topics. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2021, Hajin Kim

Environmental Transactions and Bankruptcy

This seminar will provide an overview of environmental transactional and environmental bankruptcy topics. Environmental issues often play a critical role in business and corporate transactions. This class will provide practical skills development focusing on the environmental aspects of transactions, with a core emphasis on the identification, management and allocation of environmental liability risks in many different types of transactions. In the bankruptcy arena, this course will provide an understanding of key environmental bankruptcy concepts, how to harmonize the conflicting goals of bankruptcy and environmental law, and how environmental liabilities are managed during the bankruptcy process. Students will gain practical experience in learning how environmental bankruptcy cases are handled. A series of reaction papers is required for this class. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2021, Tobias D. Chun and Jeanne Terry Cohn

Family Law

This course will examine the state's role in recognizing and regulating personal relationships between adults and between adults and children. Throughout the quarter we will explore assumptions about family that underlie existing legal regulation, including assumptions embodied in constitutional law. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2020, Mary Anne Case
  • Winter 2018, Mary Anne Case
  • Autumn 2018, Kristin A. Collins

Food and Drug Law and Policy

This course explores legal and policy issues in the federal regulation of foods, drugs, medical devices, and other products coming within the jurisdiction of the FDA. It will examine substantive standards applicable to these products and procedural issues in the enforcement of these standards. It will also address the tension between state and federal regulation in this area, constitutional constraints on such regulation, the conflict between state tort law and federal regulation, and a variety of other issues relating to the development and marketing of regulated products. The student's grade is based on class participation and an in-class final examination or major paper of 20-25 pages.

Previously:

  • Spring 2020, Jack R. Bierig
  • Spring 2019, Jack R. Bierig

Food Law

This seminar will examine issues relating to food law and food policy. Topic covered will include: food safety, food labeling, genetically modified agriculture, corn policy, regulation of food quality, factory farming, restaurant regulations, and more. Students will have to write a paper and make a presentation in class. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2020, Omri Ben-Shahar
  • Spring 2020, Omri Ben-Shahar and Emilie Aguirre
  • Spring 2019, Omri Ben-Shahar

Global Inequality

Global income and wealth are highly concentrated. The richest 2% of the population own about half of the global assets. Per capita income in the United States is around $47,000 and in Europe it is around $30,500, while in India it is $3,400 and in Congo, it is $329. There are equally unsettling inequalities in longevity, health, and education. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we ask what duties nations and individuals have to address these inequalities and what are the best strategies for doing so. What role must each country play in helping itself? What is the role of international agreements and agencies, of NGOs, of political institutions, and of corporations in addressing global poverty? How do we weigh policies that emphasize growth against policies that emphasize within-country equality, health, or education? In seeking answers to these questions, the class will combine readings on the law and economics of global development with readings on the philosophy of global justice. A particular focus will be on the role that legal institutions, both domestic and international, play in discharging these duties. For, example, we might focus on how a nation with natural resources can design legal institutions to ensure they are exploited for the benefit of the citizens of the country. Students will be expected to write a paper (20-25 pages), which may qualify for substantial writing credit. Non-law students need instructor consent to enroll. Class participation may also be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Winter 2021, Martha C. Nussbaum and David Weisbach
  • Winter 2019, Martha C. Nussbaum and David Weisbach

Greenberg Seminar: Global Poverty

This seminar will focus on how legal regimes can be improved to reduce global poverty by promoting economic and social development. For each session, we will watch a documentary film that explores a different issue related to poverty and development around the world. These issues will include topics like migration, housing, health, labor markets, and education. We will focus on discussing how existing laws contributed to the emergence of current problems and how laws can be reformed to promote development. We will also discuss the extent to which the films we watch are successful at identifying and conveying development challenges and opportunities.

Previously:

  • Spring 2020, Adam S. Chilton and Anup Malani
  • Winter 2020, Adam S. Chilton and Anup Malani
  • Autumn 2019, Adam S. Chilton and Anup Malani

Greenberg Seminar: Troubled Cities

*All meetings will take place in Winter and Spring quarters of 2021.* We can start with discussing the movie American Factory (available on Netflix), about the re-opening, but then the clash between management and workers, of a factory closed by General Motors in Dayton, Ohio, but then purchased by a Chinese company determined to re-purpose its workforce. We will then discuss The Poisoned City, and the story of Flint Michigan's troubled water supply, and Why Nations Fail, a more academic book considering the larger question of the rise and fall and rise again of conglomerations of people. We might also talk about The Rise of the Creative Class, a book that suggests that the cities most of you yearn to live in, are not made great by people like us but rather by off-beat artistic types. We are open to suggestions for a different book or film. Graded Pass/Fail.

Previously:

  • Spring 2021, Saul Levmore and Julie Roin
  • Winter 2021, Saul Levmore and Julie Roin

Health Care Policy

This class will cover the basics of health economics and U.S. health care policy.  We will discuss the value of health, the productivity of health care and the role of health insurance.  We will also review the major sources of US health care (physicians, hospitals, and drugs) and health insurance (including Medicaid and Medicare).  We will discuss the drivers of health care innovation and health care costs.  We will also take up timely policy topics such as Medicare for All, drug pricing, medical bankruptcy, racial disparities in health, and hospital mergers. My aim is to provide a survey of the many views of health care markets and reforms. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Winter 2020, Anup Malani

Health Law and Policy

This class will explore legal and policy issues in the health care system of the United States.  The course begins with an examination of Medicare, Medicaid, and various federal statutes governing the delivery of health care to patients.  It then considers the Affordable Care Act and legal and policy issues relating to that Act.  Next, it considers the impact of other laws such as the antitrust and tax laws -- as well as state law and policy -- that bear on the provision of health care services. At the conclusion of the course, students should have a good understanding of the complex and often conflicting laws and policy that govern the delivery of health care services in this country.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2020, Jack R. Bierig

Insurance Law

This course introduces students to insurance institutions and insurance law, with the ultimate goal of understanding the role of insurance in society. Liability, life, and property insurance will receive the most attention, but we will also discuss health and disability insurance. After taking this course, students will know how to read and analyze a standard form insurance contract, how to work with insurance regulatory materials, how to spot the insurance issues in a wide variety of legal and public policy contexts, and how to think about insurance related issues using conceptual tools from a variety of disciplines. Cross-cutting themes of interest include the effects of insurance on tort law and on litigation, the regulatory function of insurance contracts, and the ways in which various conceptions of justice are achieved through insurance mechanisms as well as insurance regulation. This class has a final exam. Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Spring 2021, Omri Ben-Shahar
  • Spring 2020, Omri Ben-Shahar

Life (and Death) in the Law

This seminar will explore the various definitions and valuations of life across diverse areas of the law. Readings will include seminal cases in reproductive rights, assisted suicide, right-to-die, and capital punishment. Background readings in related areas, i.e., scientific journals, papers, etc. will also be required. The seminar will discuss policy decision-making including actuarial analysis and social, medical and religious values inherent, implicit or ignored in the legal analysis. Students will be required to write two response papers, co-draft a statute in one area of law, and participate in jury deliberations. Grade will also be based on class participation.

Previously:

  • Spring 2021, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers
  • Spring 2020, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers
  • Spring 2019, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers
  • Spring 2018, Herschella Juanita Glenn Conyers

Regulation of Sexuality

This course explores the many ways in which the legal system regulates sexuality, sexual identity, and gender and considers such regulation in a number of substantive areas as well as the limits on placed on such regulation by constitutional guarantees including free speech, equal protection, and due process. Readings include cases and articles from the legal literature together with work by scholars in other fields. The grade is based on a substantial paper or a series of short papers, with class participation taken into account.

Previously:

  • Spring 2021, Mary Anne Case
  • Spring 2020, Mary Anne Case
  • Spring 2019, Mary Anne Case
  • Spring 2018, Mary Anne Case

Toxics, Toxic Torts and Environmental Injustice

This course will expose students to common law and administrative approaches for addressing actual and potential public health and environmental harms from toxic substances.  The course will begin by examining common law approaches, including theories of liability, causation, admissibility of evidence, proximate cause, damages, defenses, apportionment among multiple parties, and procedural issues.  The course will then look at regulatory approaches to risk assessment and risk management and at specific federal laws to address toxic exposures in the workplace (OSHA), of hazardous waste (RCRA and CERCLA (Superfund)), and of potentially toxic products (FIFRA, TSCA).  Throughout the course, students will learn about how individuals and groups, including low-income and people-of-color communities, have sought redress for the toxic exposures they have faced.  The course is a complement to Professor Kim's Environmental Law: Air, Water, and Animals course; neither is a prerequisite for the other, and the two share little overlap. A series of research papers is required (20-25 pages). Participation may be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Winter 2021, Mark N. Templeton