First Class of Certificate Graduates Five Years Later

2018 marks Georgia State Law’s fifth anniversary of the health law certificate program, which allows students to concentrate their studies. The certificate program is designed to foster the knowledge, skills and values that contemporary health lawyers need in this rapidly-changing field.

The certificate program introduces students to a broad range of health law topics and settings. Students in the program must take four required courses: Health Law: Finance and Delivery, Health Law: Quality and Access, Corporations and Administrative Law. Students also select from a variety of elective courses in public health or bioethics. In addition, students must complete a substantial writing project on a health law topic and participate in a lawyering-skills course, clinic experience, or externship opportunity.

The program’s integrated educational approach provides a bridge between law school and professional practice. “With health law as a lens, students will have the opportunity to apply theory to real-world health law issues that they may face in their future legal careers,” said Stacie Kershner, associate director of the Center for Law, Health & Society.

Seven students were in the first class of health law certificates in 2013. Since then over 75 students have graduated with the certificate.

“I would not be where I am today without Georgia State’s health law program and health law professors, plain and simple,” said Sarah Ketchie Browning (J.D. ’13), a transactional attorney at Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP. “My practice centers entirely on health care law, and regularly involves the material covered in the health law regulations course with Professor Randy Hughes.”

Rachel Hulkower (J.D. ’13) was a microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prior to law school and is now a legal analyst with the Public Health Law Program at CDC. “My job requires that I understand broad legal principles, apply them to specific public health topics, research legal authorities, connect that information to health data, and communicate my analysis to public health practitioners and policy makers, all skills learned while earned in the certificate program,” she said.

Jena Jolissaint’s (J.D. ‘13) is an associate professor of philosophy and the program director of general studies at South University, and she also runs a small real estate law practice. Her experience in the HeLP Legal Services Clinic “really what taught me how to be a lawyer,” said Jolissaint. “The opportunity to focus on health law made my experience as a law student even more rewarding.”

While not all certificate students end up practicing health law, the core competencies developed in the program are transferable to other legal fields. Katrina Carmichael Hodges (J.D. ’13) is an associate at Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs in complex business litigation. Joseph Leonard (J.D. ’13), an associate attorney at Riley McLendon, LLC, representing several metro Atlanta municipalities. Evelyn Clark (J.D. ’13) is the assistant director of academic success and student affairs at Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. Amy Jurden (J.D. ’13) is counsel at the insurance company Assurant.

Prospective and current Georgia State Law students interested in learning more about the health law certificate are encouraged to contact Stacie Kershner at lawandhealth@gsu.edu.