Health Law Certificate Program
Students enrolled in a degree program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law can develop an expertise in the rapidly changing, steadily growing field of health law through the Law School's Health Law Certificate.
Pitt Law’s Health Law Program, one of the oldest in the country, is intended to give students interested in health law a basic grounding in the field, complemented by clinical experience and more in-depth study of advanced topics and closely related areas of law. Students are encouraged to obtain the same broad background in law expected of all graduates for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
The health care industry comprises more than one-sixth of the entire economy—larger even than the automobile industry. It is also a large consumer of legal services. Law firms ranging from the largest to the smallest provide legal services to hospitals, health insurance companies, nursing homes, physicians' practices, home health agencies, and pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, to name some of the more prominent. In addition, many federal and state agencies and many of the larger providers of health care goods and services employ a large number of lawyers in house. Although there are a few areas that are substantively unique—such as Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, certificate of need requirements, and fraud and abuse prohibitions—much of health law involves the application of other areas of law, such as corporate law, employment law, and real estate law to the health care industry's special circumstances.
The Health Law Program provides students with a strong foundation in health law that will enable them to practice in a variety of contexts, including law firms, health care management firms and insurers, government, and health care institutions. A combination of classroom and skills components acquaints students with everything from complex business and legal transactions, to bioethics and patient care issues, to the variety of legal issues that arise in the operation of a health care institution. Students gain hands-on experience in these areas through their work in the Law School's clinics and practicums, and in externships and summer jobs available in the health care setting.
In addition to courses taught by regular law school faculty, leading practitioners in various fields of health law such as fraud and abuse, business transactions, compliance, disabilities law, nonprofit organizations, and privacy teach courses designed to relate theory to practice. In addition, Current Issues in Health Law, a required course for all Health Law Certificate students, is taught by renown practitioners of health law and by health care professionals and executives.
A Leader in Health Care and Legal Education
Pitt's Health Law Certificate Program has the advantage of being affiliated with the world-class, comprehensive health care facilities available at the University of Pittsburgh. The Law School is only three blocks away from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center System's complex of hospitals and numerous institutes and clinics. Perhaps best known as a world leader in organ transplantation, the medical center is recognized for innovative hospital management and patient-care techniques, and for specialties including cancer research, diagnostic artificial intelligence, reproductive physiology, pain control, cardiovascular research, AIDS, and geriatrics, and many more.
Opportunities to Network
The city of Pittsburgh is host to a large number of law firms and attorneys who specialize in or have departments in health law. Students meet and network with many of these attorneys, as well as health care practitioners, lawmakers, and representatives of consumer groups, through the innovative Current Issues in Health Law course. This course is taught by health-law practitioners and helps integrate the academic and practice aspects of the program, and allows students to examine the larger issues and ramifications of the relationship between health care and law.
A Multitude of Health Law Courses
The Health Law Program offers more than three dozen courses and prepares students for practice in all aspects of health law and in all types of health care settings. Students who wish to concentrate their health law studies will find guidance for doing so in three pathways—Regulatory and Transactional, Bioethics, or Public Health—but there is no requirement to do so. In addition to law school courses, students in the Health Law Certificate may take up to 6 credits in the Graduate School of Public Health, the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University (adjacent to the Pitt campus) and in other graduate and professional programs at Pitt, CMU, and Duquesne universities. For advice about taking courses outside the law school, you may wish to consult the Health Law Certificate Program Director.
All students in the Health Law Certificate Program take a common core of courses: the survey course in Health Law and Policy, and Current Issues in Health Law. In addition, all students must take a skills course and write their upper level writing requirement paper on a topic in health law.
Students also have the opportunity to keep pace with the hottest topics in health law by attending the Pennsylvania Bar Institute's annual two-day Health Law Institute and to participate in interschool competitions in health care regulatory and compliance law and in health care transactional law.
For more information on Health Law Certificate Program requirements, click here.
Tomar Brown is a clinical assistant professor of law and director of the Health Law Clinic. Under her leadership, the Health Law Clinic operates as a medical-legal collaborative. Clinic cases and coursework focus on the use of legal advocacy to address social determinants of health facing the families of our region’s sick and disabled youth. Professor Brown teaches Civil Practice Clinic – Health Law.
Mary Crossley is a national expert on issues of inequality in health care. She has published numerous scholarly articles, focusing particularly on disability discrimination in health care finance and delivery. Professor Crossley teaches Current Issues in Health Law, Health Law and Policy, and Bioethics and Law.
Greer Donley is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University Pittsburgh Law School. Her teaching and scholarship focus on healthcare, bioethics, and administrative law, especially as those topics relate to reproductive rights.
Martha Mannix is the supervising attorney of the Elder Law Clinic, which focuses on issues surrounding the mental incapacity of older adults, including guardianship and advance planning for incapacity, such as living wills and durable powers of attorney.
Alan Meisel is the Director of the Health Law Certificate Program. He is a law professor and the Dickie, McCamey, and Chilcote Professor of Bioethics and founder and director of Pitt's Center for Bioethics and Health Law. He is a leading national and international authority on end-of-life decision making and is the author of The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decisionmaking. He has served on the staff of the President's Commission on Ethical Issues in Medicine, and on the White House Task Force on Health Care Reform.
Professor Teeter co-teaches the Health Law Practicum: Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Health Law Adjunct Faculty
In addition to regular faculty, leading practitioners provide a practical perspective on the teaching of health law.
Dr. C. Allen Black, Jr., Esquire, has practiced patent law at some of the largest firms in the United States. Before practicing law, he was an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, where he developed vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer. Dr. Black teaches Biotechnology Law.
Mary Nell Cummings is the Director of the law school’s Health Care Compliance Online Graduate Certificate Program. As a former assistant general counsel for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, she guided the business on a variety of issues concerning social media, public relations strategies, privacy, claim support, clinical design, regulatory compliance, data use, and retail sales. Ms. Cummings teaches Health Care Compliance.
Susan Frietsche, Esquire is the Founder and Director of the Western Pennsylvania office of the Women’s Law Project. Ms. Frietsche teaches Reproductive Law & Policy.
Joseph H. Hornack, Esquire is a partner in the firm of Healey & Hornack and concentrates his law practice in the area of employee rights and benefits. Mr. Hornack teaches The Law of Disability Discrimination.
Penina Kessler Lieber, Esquire practices with the firm of Dinsmore & Shahl, LLP exclusively in the area of nonprofit and tax-exempt law. Ms. Lieber teaches Nonprofit Tax-Exempt Organizations.
Mr. Manne participates in the Veterans Consortium Pro-Bono Program and is a member of the National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA). He is accredited by the Veterans Administration and admitted before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Mr. Manne teaches the Veteran’s Practicum.
Lisa A. Martinelli, Esquire is the Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer for Highmark Health and its subsidiaries and affiliates, including the Allegheny Health Network. Ms. Martinelli teaches Health Care Information Privacy.
William McKendree, Esquire is supervisor of the APPRISE Program in Allegheny County. APPRISE is Pennsylvania’s Health Insurance Assistance Program helping consumers with Medicare, Medicaid, long term care, and health insurance concerns. Mr. McKendree teaches the Medicare and Medicaid Practicum.
Robert B. Ramsey, III, Esquire is a shareholder with the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and practices in the firm’s Health Care Section. Mr. Ramsey teaches Health Care Fraud & Abuse.
John S. Rozel, MD is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and Medical Director of the Re:Solve Crisis Network. He co-teaches Mental Health Law.
Stephanie W. Schreiber, Esquire practices law and is a shareholder in the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and practices in the area of mergers and acquisition transactions. She is regularly involved in advising health care clients on compliance and regulatory matters. Ms. Schreiber teaches Health Care Business Transactions.
Professor Smetanka is the former director of Pitt Law’s Health Care Clinic. Under her supervision, clinic students succeeded in changing Medicare policy to cover solitary pancreas transplants for certain individuals with severe brittle diabetes. She teaches the Social Security Disability Practicum.
Chaton Turner is Assistant Counsel for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she provides strategic and legal support to UPMC Physician Services Division, Center for Fertility, and UPMC hospitals and affiliates (including fraud and abuse analysis, employment law, patient services, e-record and medical staff issues). Ms. Turner co-teaches Health Law Practicum: Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Elizabeth Van Nostrand is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Graduate School of Public Health and adjunct professor of law. Professor Van Nostrand teaches Public Health Law.
John A. Zottola is a judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. He co-teaches Mental Health Law.
Graduates of Pitt Law’s Health Law Certificate Program have obtained positions in major national law firms, nonprofit health law organizations, health care consulting firms, health care systems, and government agencies:
- Akin Gump (Philadelphia)
- American Occupational Therapy Association
- Aptalis Pharma (Bridgewater NY)
- Arent Fox (DC)
- Arnold & Porter (DC)
- Baptist Healthcare System (Louisville)
- Bass, Berry & Sims (Nashville)
- Brach Eichler (Roseland NJ)
- Buchanan Ingersoll (Pittsburgh)
- CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield (Owings Mills Maryland)
- Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Clark Hill Thorp Reed (Pittsburgh)
- Continuing Care Leadership Coalition (NYC)
- Cozen O’Connor (Philadelphia)
- Dentons (DC)
- Department of Insurance Securities and Banking (DC)
- Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote (Pittsburgh)
- Dickinson Wright (Nashville)
- Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh)
- Ernst & Young (Charleston WV, DC, Pittsburgh)
- Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba (Center Valley PA)
- Fox Rothschild (Exton PA, Pittsburgh)
- Geisinger Health System (Danville PA)
- Henry Ford Health System (Detroit)
- Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield (Pittsburgh)
- Houston Harbaugh (Pittsburgh)
- Johnson & Johnson (DC, Beijing)
- K&L Gates (Pittsburgh)
- Kelley Drye & Warren (NYC)
- King & Spaulding (Atlanta)
- Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett (Erie PA)
- Horty Springer & Mattern (Pittsburgh)
- Latsha, Davis & Yohe (Mechanicsburg PA)McGuireWoods (Atlanta, Richmond)
- Mahoning County District Board of Health (Youngstown OH)
- Mathematica (Ann Arbor)
- McCullough, Campbell & Lane (Chicago)
- Mississippi College of Law
- Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (Rockville MD)
- Morgan Lewis (DC)
- National Association of County and City Health Officials (DC)
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus OH)
- New York City Department of Education (NYC)
- New York City Human Resource Administration (NYC)
- New York State Department of Health (Albany NY)
- New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation (Albany NY)
- Norton Rose Fulbright (DC)
- Nova Southeastern University College of Law (Ft. Lauderdale)
- Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (Harrisburg)
- Pennsylvania Department of Health (Harrisburg)
- Pennsylvania Health Law Project (Pittsburgh)
- Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission (Harrisburg)
- Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (Harrisburg)
- Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts (judicial clerkships)
- Pepper Hamilton (Philadelphia)
- Philips Health Care (Bothell WA)
- Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe (Chicago)
- Post & Schell (Philadelphia, Harrisburg)
- Quarles & Brady Streich Lang (Phoenix)
- Quintiles (Durham NC)
- Reed Smith Shaw & McClay (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh)
- St. Joseph Health System (Orange CA)
- St. Vincent’s Medical Center (Bridgeport CT)
- Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis (Pittsburgh)
- Stevens & Lee (Lancaster PA)
- Stradley Ronon Stevens and Young (Philadelphia)
- Texas Department of Health Services (Austin)
- ThompsonMcMullan (Richmond)
- Thomson Rhodes & Cowie (Pittsburgh)
- Tucker Arensberg (Pittsburgh)
- UPMC Health System (Pittsburgh)
- US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (DC)
- US Department of Veterans Affairs (DC)
- US Food & Drug Administration (DC)
- US Department of Health & Human Services (DC)
- US Department of Labor (DC)
- US Department of State (DC)
- US Patent and Trademark Office (DC)
- US Securities and Exchange Commission (Chicago)
- US Senate Finance Committee (DC)
- University Hospitals Health System (Cleveland)
- University of Michigan School of Public Health (Ann Arbor)
- University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (Pittsburgh)
- University of Pittsburgh Office of General Counsel (Pittsburgh)
- University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Pittsburgh)
- VCU Health System (Richmond)
- West Virginia University College of Law (Morgantown, WV)
- Whitman-Walker Health Max Robinson Center (DC)
There are a number of opportunities for students interested in health law to pursue this interest either through the Health Law Certificate Program or apart from it. They include the following:
- Health Law Regulatory and Compliance Competition
- Health Law Society (Student Organization)
- Health Law Transactional Competition
- Salk Fellowship (offered by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation)
- Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
Semester in DC
Students in the Health Law Certificate Program may satisfy the program’s skills requirement by participating in Pitt Law’s Semester in DC Program if your externship placement is in health law, and the paper written for the seminar portion of the Semester in DC will satisfy the upper-level writing requirement for the Health Law Certificate Program if written on a topic in health law and approved by the Program Director.
All of our prepared information about the Health Law Certificate program is on our website. However, if you have specific questions about the Health Law Certificate program that are not answered on the website, please send us e-mail at
Or contact:Alan Meisel
Professor of Law
Director, Health Law Certificate Program
3900 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260