A spotlight on healthcare lawyer salary and career outlooks

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Health lawyers can effect change on a local or wide-scale level. They can advocate for individuals or groups that otherwise might not have a prominent voice in the public health sector. Moreover, the complex issues that health lawyers manage can shape U.S. medical practices on a macro level. Find out more about the career duties, outlooks and salaries of careers in health law and discover how you can specialize in this area.

Gavel placed on an open book

Health lawyers can effect change on a local or wide-scale level. They can advocate for individuals or groups that otherwise might not have a prominent voice in the public health sector. Moreover, the complex issues that health lawyers manage can shape U.S. medical practices on a macro level. Find out more about the career duties, outlooks and salaries of careers in health law and discover how you can specialize in this area.

 

Health care lawyer salary

According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from May 2018 across industries of all sizes across the U.S., legal occupations made up 58.81% of employment among the surveyed group. Health law salaries vary widely depending on a professional’s specialization, industry and experience level. The BLS found that senior law attorneys earn a median annual salary of approximately $68,000. Meanwhile, intellectual property attorneys in the health sector earn a median income of around $136,500. Health care lawyers have a significant salary potential, with the opportunity to earn over $230,000 annually.

PayScale reported income information related directly to health care lawyers. This resource found that health care attorneys earn an average salary of $82,322, with earning potential up to $162,823. Meanwhile, medical malpractice attorneys can anticipate an average pay grade of $105,000 annually. If you choose to pursue a career as a corporate health care attorney, you can expect even higher earnings, as this profession has an average salary of $103,858.

The day-to-day of a health care attorney

Health law is a varied, evolving discipline that touches on many topics and issues in the public sphere. Health care lawyers typically work with individual people, practices and hospitals, focusing on individual health concerns rather than large-scale societal public health issues. Just a handful of the cases health care lawyers may work at any given time involve the following subjects:

  • Access to care
  • Care providers
  • Disease intervention
  • Drug safety
  • Ethics
  • Food quality
  • Insurance benefits
  • Treatment plans

Health care lawyer careers can offer the flexibility to work in a variety of settings and for different types of employers. Several industries utilize these professionals. Some of the most popular fields in which career opportunities for this title arise include:

  • Federal, state and local government
  • Nonprofit advocacy
  • Legal service group
  • Private and public law firms

The role of public health lawyers

Unlike health care lawyers, who focus primarily on specific people and medical organizations, public health lawyers work with the rules and regulations that prevent illnesses and improve patient outcomes. Public health law represents the policies that society considers appropriate and necessary for maintaining and improving health conditions. Like health care lawyers, public health lawyers can work in a variety of environments, including government agencies, private companies and charitable organizations.

If you are interested in a career as a public health lawyer, you might consider earning accreditation in public health while pursuing the requirements you will need to meet before and after earning a law degree. Although you can still secure a job as a public health lawyer without this accreditation, you might decide to do so for personal growth and opportunity enhancement. This dual accreditation can make you stand out to employers, improving your career and salary prospects.

Employment outlook for health lawyers

The job market has projected expansion for health professionals, with 2 million openings by 2024 in all areas of the field, from practitioners to health lawyers, according to the BLS. Health care law has experienced a particular growth over the past few years, becoming one of the fastest-growing practices for graduate and postgraduate degree holders. The Affordable Care Act initially produced significant interest and growth in health law. With this law still in effect since its passing in 2009, ACA regulations continue to affect change in multiple areas. Health law professionals provide organizations with support in the disciplines of ethics, regulatory compliance and risk management in accordance to ACA policies.

Although the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act has been in the works for several years now, the ACA remains in effect. However, health professionals should stay apprised of any changes that may take place if action to repeal the ACA is eventually put into effect. Through consistency and change, health lawyers can continue to use their skills and knowledge to support care providers, hospital administrators and medical technology entrepreneurs.

Honing in on a specialty in health law

If you are interested in health law and want to pursue an advanced degree in this field, you might consider different areas of specialization. Your graduate university may offer a variety of specific components of health law that represent the industry you’d like to pursue after graduation. Some common specializations in health law include:

  • Behavioral science
  • Biostatistics
  • Child welfare
  • Contract law
  • Environmental law
  • Religious rights
  • Reproductive rights

You might even consider pursuing clerkships, externships, internships and research assistantships to explore a variety of specializations to select your area of interest.

After gaining some ground in this area, you might look into different fellowship opportunities that can help you gain experience working on projects while participating in training, professional development, networking and mentoring opportunities. Fellowships may last one or more years, providing you with income while supporting you as you hone your craft.

Preparing for a career as a health lawyer

If you’d like to be a monumental force in the health care sector, you can begin the process of becoming a health lawyer. With the right education, you can invoke change and support individuals and organizations of all sizes to execute proper health and care strategies. A master’s degree from Hofstra Law can help you understand the tenets health law and distinguish your role as a leader with health care compliance expertise. Contact an enrollment advisor to find out more about how you can become an influential figure in health laws and policies when you pursue the Master of Laws in Health Law and Policy.

 

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

How a health law and policy program can prepare you to advocate for patients

What you need to know about Medicare and Medicaid

 

SOURCES:

National Conference of Bar Examiners

National Jurist – Health care law continues to grow

New Jersey Online – Health career outlook for health care professionals with law skills

PayScale – Average Corporate Healthcare Attorney Salary

PayScale – Average Health Care Attorney Salary

PayScale – Average Medical Malpractice Attorney Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Lawyers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Employment Statistics