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 2017-18 and 2018-19 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

Spring 2019, David A. Weisbach, Anup Malani, Robert Topel, and Kevin Murphy

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. Class participation may be considered in final grading. Final grade will be based on a major paper (20-25 pages).

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, David A. Weisbach, Anup Malani, Robert Topel, and Kevin Murphy

Environmental Law

Autumn 2018, Mark N. Templeton

This course introduces students to the laws, policies and theories related to environmental protection in the United States. No environmental, engineering or science background is required, and it is not necessary to take Administrative Law before or during enrollment in this course. The course reviews different, and often competing, objectives related to the environment: development and use of natural resources, preservation of nature, protection of human health, economic efficiency, and distributional equity. The course explores in depth how the common law and the major federal environmental statues (e.g. the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, etc.) address these objectives. The student's grade is based primarily on a final examination.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Karen Bradshaw

Family Law

Autumn 2018, Kristin A. Collins

This course will explore legal issues relating to the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of family relationships. Topics include (1) the changing social and legal definitions of the family; (2) the legal formation of traditional and non-traditional adult intimate relationships; (3) legal parentage and adoption; (3) dissolution of family relationships and obligations at divorce; (4) and constitutional issues arising out of government regulation of family relationships.  Special attention will be paid to the interaction between law and social change, including changing social norms concerning extra-marital sex, women's increased participation in the workforce, the rise of non-traditional families, and advances in reproductive technology.  Grading is based on a final examination and class participation.

Previously:

  • Winter 2018, Mary Anne Case

Food and Drug Law and Policy

Spring 2019, Jack Bierig

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 2018, Jack Bierig

Food Law

Spring 2019, Omri Ben-Shahar

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 an SRP paper of 20-25 pages and make a presentation in class.

Global Inequality

Winter 2019, Martha C. Nussbaum and David A. Weisbach

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.

Greenberg Seminar: Blood, Books, and Guns: Crime and Medical Ethics in Literature

Winter 2018, Alison Siegler and Mark Siegler

This seminar studies selected criminal justice topics and medical ethics issues through the lens of novels, plays, and other primary sources. We also explore the centrality of storytelling in lawyering and doctoring. Professor Alison Siegler and her father, Dr. Mark Siegler of the Medical School, bring to this seminar their undergraduate experience as English majors and their respective expertise in criminal defense and medical ethics. Topics include mens rea in Capote; sentencing in Shakespeare; end-of-life decision-making in Tolstoy; and crime, punishment, and ethics in Bob Dylan's music. The seminar meets five times over Autumn Quarter and Winter Quarter.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Alison Siegler and Mark Siegler

Greenberg Seminar: Wine and the Law

Spring 2019, Thomas Ginsburg and Jonathan Masur

This seminar will consider the law and politics of wine production and regulation in the US and elsewhere. There will be an empirical research component. Graded Pass/Fail.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2018, Thomas Ginsburg and Jonathan Masur
  • Winter 2018, Thomas Ginsburg and Jonathan Masur

Health Law and Policy

Spring 2019, Aziza Ahmed

Many Americans are unable to receive access to necessary health services and over twenty million remain uninsured.  Yet, the question of who should have health care and how this ought to be delivered remains one of the most politically contentious issues in our contemporary moment.  This course provides a comprehensive overview of the legal, political, and policy environment of laws pertaining to health and healthcare delivery. Course topics include the physician-patient relationship, quality control, informed consent, and privacy.  The course will also cover key areas in public health law and bioethics including government surveillance during epidemics and the ethical concerns raised by new technologies. The course will explore how different scholarly perspectives, including law and economics, law and social movements, and critical theories of law inform our understanding of health law.  Students will work from a traditional casebook as well as supplemental material on the historical and social dimensions of health law and related institutions. A major paper of 20-25 pages is required. Class participation may also be considered in final grading.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Wendy N. Epstein

Law and the Mental Health System

Autumn 2018, Mark J. Heyrman

The course examines the interrelationship between legal doctrine; procedural rules; medical, cultural, and social scientific understandings of mental disability; and institutional arrangements affecting the provision of services to the mentally disabled. Consideration is given to admission to and discharge from mental health facilities, to competency to consent to or to refuse treatment, to surrogate decision-making for those found incompetent, to the rights of those confined in mental health facilities; to discrimination against the mentally disabled, and to the rights of the mentally disabled in the criminal justice system. Grades are based on a final paper (20-25 pages) or a final take-home exam, and class participation.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Mark J. Heyrman

Law, Social Work, and the Legal Regulation of the Social Work Profession

Winter 2018, Israel Doron

In recent years, there has been a general shift towards integration and growing cooperation between lawyers and social workers, both professionally and ideologically. However, there are still tensions and gaps between the ways legal and social work professionals view their inter-relationships. This course will examine the different intersections between law and social work, and the ways the law attempts to regulate the social work profession. The analysis will use both American and Israeli legal examples, and will try to compare the different approaches to the legal regulation of social work in both countries.

Life (and Death) in the Law

Spring 2019, Herschella G. Conyers

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 2018, Herschella G. Conyers

Mental Health Advocacy Clinic

Spring 2019, Mark J. Heyrman

Mental Health Advocacy teaches a variety of advocacy skills. With the permission of the clinical teacher, students may choose to focus on litigation, legislation, or both. Students engaged in litigation may interview clients and witnesses; research and draft pleadings and legal memoranda, including briefs to reviewing courts; conduct formal and informal discovery; negotiate with opposing counsel and others; conduct evidentiary hearings and trials; and present oral argument in trial and appellate courts. Students who have completed fifty percent of the credits needed for graduation may be licensed to appear, under the supervision of the clinical teacher, in state and federal trial and appellate courts pursuant to court rules and practices. Students engaged in legislative advocacy may research and draft legislation and supporting materials, devise and implement strategies to obtain the enactment or defeat of legislation, negotiate with representatives of various interest groups, and testify in legislative hearings.  The course aims to provide students with an understanding of the relationships between individual advocacy tasks and the ultimate goals of clients, between litigation and legislative advocacy, and between advocacy on behalf of individual clients and advocacy for systemic change. Prior or contemporaneous enrollment in Law and the Mental Health System is encouraged, but not required. See the general rules for all clinical courses for further details concerning enrollment, including the rules governing the award of credit. There is a mandatory one-credit seminar component for this course which meets once a week during the Autumn Quarter. Mental Health Advocacy satisfies part of the writing requirement if substantial written work is completed. Student may enroll in this clinical course for between one and six quarters.

Previously:

  • Autumn 2017, Mark J. Heyrman
  • Winter 2018, Mark J. Heyrman
  • Spring 2018, Mark J. Heyrman
  • Autumn 2018, Mark J. Heyrman
  • Spring 2019, Mark J. Heyrman

Poverty Law

Spring 2019, Andrew S. Hammond

This seminar offers an introduction to the substantive law and procedure of public benefit programs in the United States. The seminar will identify persistent controversies in poverty law, including means-test design, funding structure, federalism issues, and behavioral rules, as well as how poverty law interacts with immigration enforcement and disability law. Throughout, we will examine to what extent the agencies that administer these public benefits are vulnerable to federal litigation and what remedies may result from such litigation. Final grade will be based on: a series of short reaction papers and class participation (2 credits). Student who wish to earn 3 credits will be writing an additional long paper.

Previously:

  • Spring 2019, Andrew S. Hammond

Regulation of Sexuality

Spring 2019, Mary Anne Case

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 of 20-25 pages, series of short papers, or final in-class examination, with class participation taken into account.

Previously:

  • Spring 2018, Mary Anne Case

Reproductive Health and Justice

Winter 2019, Lorie Chaiten

This seminar will examine the history and evolution of legal protections for abortion, contraception and other reproductive health care. We will look at state and federal constitutional, statutory and common law theories used to secure and protect these rights. We will explore current threats and growing barriers to access, including ever-expanding assertions of religious beliefs to limit access to reproductive health care. We will also look at advocacy strategies for addressing those threats and barriers. Grades are based on a final paper of 20-25 pages and class participation.