Career Definition for a Medical Law Attorney
Medical law attorneys specialize in the laws that apply to medical malpractice, medical insurance claims, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, to name a few. New medical law attorneys usually work for a couple of years for senior attorneys doing legal research and case preparation. Eventually, as experienced medical law attorneys, they may be senior legal counsel to physicians or patients, represent medical device manufacturers in lawsuits or negotiate the settlement of workers' compensation claims.
|Education||Juris doctor (J.D.) degree from law school; focused coursework on medical law|
|Job Skills||Analytical ability, interpersonal skills, research, writing communication,|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$119,250 (all lawyers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||8% (all lawyers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
To become a medical law attorney, a 4-year bachelor's degree is required from a college or university prior to entering a 3-year law school program. Medical law students take general classes like contract law as well as specific classes that apply to malpractice and medical negligence law.
After graduation from law school, all lawyers must pass their state's law (or bar) exam to become licensed attorneys.
Good negotiation skills, critical thinking, and the ability to communicate under pressure are the qualities of a good medical law attorney. The ability to apply logic and law to resolve legal disputes ethically are skills that are required for a career in medical law.
Career and Economic Outlook
In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median salary of $119,250 for lawyers. Wages for medical law attorneys who are self-employed vary depending on their clientele, fees, and business overhead costs. The BLS notes that career growth for lawyers is expected to be 8%, or about as fast as average, between 2016 and 2026, largely because legal services will continue to be requested by people, corporations, and the government.
Alternate Career Options
Those pursuing medical law careers may be interested in related occupations, including job titles paralegal and arbitrator.
Paralegals provide support services for attorneys and work under their direction. Paralegals can draft and prepare legal documents, conduct legal research, make arrangements for meetings like depositions, and provide courtroom assistance. Paralegals may also specialize in the same area in which the attorneys they work for specialize, such as medical, criminal or corporate law.
Paralegals often hold an associate's degree in paralegal studies or a bachelor's degree in any field and a certificate in paralegal studies. Voluntary professional certification is available. Paralegals can expect job growth of 15% from 2016-2026, per the BLS, and this job paid a median salary of $50,410 in 2017.
An arbitrator helps two sides resolve a dispute. Parties bring their issue before an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators and make their cases, then the arbitrator reviews the evidence and decides the issue. Arbitrators usually have a relevant degree in law, business or medicine, and a great deal of professional experience in those same fields; they may also complete a training program.
States may require a minimum of training or experience. State and national licensing may apply, as well as relevant professional licensing and certification requirements (for example, a law or medical license). Jobs in this area are expected to increase 10% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. Arbitrators earned median pay of $60,670 in 2017.