Core Competencies

Core competencies in knowledge, skills and values

The health law certificate program builds core competencies in three key domains: (1) knowledge (including the key concepts, theories, doctrines, laws, policies, systems, and institutions in the health law field); (2) lawyering skills (including cognitive, analytical, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills); and (3) professional values and ethics (including habits of mind and mindsets that promote the responsible, civil, and ethical practice of law). These three domains reflect what competent lawyers should know, what they should be able to do, and how they should act as professionals.

Basic legal knowledge (beyond the required first-and-second-year courses):

  • Administrative law
  • Corporate law
  • Constitutional law (particularly individual liberties based on due process and equal protection rights)

Access to, payment for, and cost regulation of health care - private sector:

  • Private and employer-sponsored health insurance; state and federal regulation thereof
  • COBRA, ERISA, PPACA (current health reform)

Access to, payment for, and cost regulation of health care - public sector:

  • Major public insurance and benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, and CHIP

Regulation of health care providers:

  • Fraud and abuse laws (False Claims Act, Stark, Anti-Kickback, CMP)
  • Licensing of institutional providers and Certificate of Need
  • Credentialing of individual practitioners; staff privileges; National Practitioners Data Bank
  • Other general laws as they affect health care providers: antitrust not-for-profit taxation law; corporate governance (directors' duties and liabilities)

Provider liability to patients:

  • Medical malpractice: individual liability (basic tort causes of action and defense) and institutional liability (vicarious and direct liability; tort and agency causes of action
  • Informed consent
  • Confidentiality and disclosure of health information: HIPAA and state statutory and common law
  • Disability discrimination

Public health law:

  • Power of state to promote the public's health
  • Regulatory process and administrative agencies
  • Health disparities and health equity


  • Reproductive rights
  • Right to refuse treatment
  • End-of-life issues
  • Human subject experimentation
  • Genetic information and privacy

Critical thinking/critical analysis:

  • The ability to interpret and apply common law, constitutional law, legislation, and regulations (including legislative history of a statute and interpretation of agency regulations) in health law contexts


  • The ability to undertake both legal research and interdisciplinary research reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of health law

Written communication:

  • The ability to engage in a range of types of writing in health law contexts, including writing for private and public audiences and for publication
  • Examples: the required paper (for depth of critical analysis), memos, contracts, legislation, briefs, policy statements

Oral and interpersonal communication:

  • Oral advocacy
  • The ability to communicate effectively with colleagues, clients, and others; to facilitate meetings; to present material publicly and privately; to negotiate deals and settlements
  • Examples: Interviewing and counseling, negotiation, facilitation, listening skills

Other behavioral skills:

  • Problem solving in real-world contexts, including transactional, litigation, and policy settings
  • Creativity
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Practice management - the ability to manage cases, projects, and time effectively and efficiently
  • Ability to cope/engage with conflict
  • Cultural competency

Ability to comport with professional ethics:

  • Appreciation of how professional ethics plays out in health law contexts
  • Ability to apply professional codes in health law contexts


Engagement in self-reflection and self-awareness, including:

  • Ability to self-critique
  • Ability to continue to learn throughout professional life
  • Commitment to caring for one’s self and personal well being

Development of  professional identity, including:

  • Commitment to being mentored and to mentoring at different stages of professional life

Retention of personal feelings and humanity, including:

  • Excitement in professional pursuits, including classes
  • Compassion for others
  • Personal and professional fulfillment (sense of purpose and meaning)

Treatment of others with respect and civility:

  • Respect (not necessarily agreement with) the perspectives and values of others
  • Acceptance of and tolerance for differences among people
  • Acceptance of and tolerance for the inevitability of conflict
  • Awareness of the need to bridge the divides among people

Promotion of justice in health:

  • Appreciation of the role of law and lawyers in promoting justice and ensuring equity in health and in health care access, cost, and quality

Commitment to pro bono service and the strengthening of one’s community

Relationship between core competencies and requirements for certificate

Most of the core knowledge competencies are covered in the required courses: Administrative Law, Corporations, and the two required health law courses (Health Law: Quality and Access; and Health Law: Financing and Delivery). With respect to the core competencies in bioethics and public health law, students have the option of choosing one course from either the bioethics focus area or the public health law focus area. Some of these core competencies in bioethics and public health law are covered in the required courses, but in less depth. The core skills and values competencies are also addressed in the certificate requirements.