|Degree Level||Juris Doctor (J.D.)|
|Experience||2+ years experience for some positions; 5-10 years of experience for advanced positions|
|Licensure||All states require licensure|
|Key Skills||Research, writing, speaking, interpersonal, negotiation, analytical and problem-solving skills|
|Salary||$136,260 (2015 average salary for all lawyers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop, HG.org, Online Job Postings (August 2015)
Medical lawyers work on cases that deal with medical practitioner negligence, violations of patient confidentiality, or criminal activity involving patient abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. The field of medical law is a broad discipline that falls under the practice of personal injury, medical malpractice, and health care law.
Lawyers of all kinds, including those who specialize in medical-related practice, write legal documents, research laws, present a client's case to a judge or jury, and negotiate settlement agreements. These professionals work in office settings on a full-time basis, though overtime hours are common. Some travel to meet with clients and to attend hearings.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of May 2015, the average salary for all lawyers is $136,260 per year.
Obtain a Bachelor's Degree
Most law schools require that applicants possess a bachelor's degree. Law students typically complete programs in economics, government, or history. Aspiring medical lawyers might consider completing a degree program in health care administration, health studies, or health humanities. These programs introduce students to the clinical, legal, and other aspects of the health care system, knowledge of which may prove beneficial when working as a medical lawyer.
Take the LSAT
To get into law school, applicants must take and pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Undergraduate students usually complete the LSTAT during their junior year. The LSAT is a half-day exam that tests an aspiring lawyer's critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and reading skills. Students may increase their test scores by completing a prep course that provides test taking techniques and familiarizes them with the contents of the exam.
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Complete Law School
About three years of full-time study is required to complete law school. Programs emphasize basic law concepts during the first year, such as criminal, constitutional, and property law, as well as torts. In the final two years, students can take elective classes, like medical research ethics and the law, medical malpractice, and public health law. During this time, they also gain practical experience through judicial internships, medical-legal clinics, and other fieldwork. Depending on the school, students may be able to concentrate their studies in law and health sciences, health law, or biomedical law. These concentrations may cover elder law, food and drug law, science and the law, personal injury litigation, and disability law.
All states require lawyers to be licensed. To become licensed, individuals must pass a bar exam and a professional responsibility exam. The format of each state's bar exam differs, but may include multiple days of testing, through both multiple-choice and essay questions.
Preparing to take the exam by completing a prep course may increase an individual's chances of passing on the first attempt. Prep courses often last several weeks and provide instruction about the types of law tested on the bar exam.
Law firms, universities, and the government hire attorneys to handle personal injury, medical malpractice, or health care law issues. Sometimes, several years of experience is required to work in a particular specialty, such as medical malpractice. However, new lawyers can gain the expertise needed by starting their careers in document review or research roles that involve medical law.
Earn a Master of Laws Degree
Licensed lawyers can earn a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Health Care Law or Global Health Law. These programs often include clinical experiences or internships in addition to coursework. Classes may cover topics like law and science, health care reform law, the fundamentals of health law, and public health law. Obtaining this degree can demonstrate to prospective employers a candidate's commitment and expertise in laws relating to the medical field.
In order to become a successful medical lawyer, you need to obtain a bachelor's degree, take the LSAT, complete law school, pass the bar exam, work as a medical lawyer, and earn a Master of Laws degree.