Health Law Panel provides information to students hoping to pursue careers in healthcare law

Being a healthcare attorney requires a unique dedication to the field, panelists said during the Health Law Panel at Elon Law on Oct. 26. The panel, co-hosted by Elon University School of Law's Office of Career Services and Elon's chapter of the Society for Health Law and Bioethics, provided career advice and answered students' questions about healthcare-related legal jobs.

Health law attorneys participating in Elon Law’s fall 2011 health law panel, from left, Karen McKeithen Schaede, Sandy Van Der Vaart, Daniel Rattray, and Harriet Smalls, with law student Phillip Clontz serving as moderator.

“One of the great things about healthcare law is that you’re never an expert for very long because it’s always changing,” said panelist Sandy Van Der Vaart, senior vice president and general counsel for LabCorp in Burlington.

Van Der Vaart was joined by three other panelists: Karen McKeithen Schaede, founder and attorney at Karen McKeithen Schaede Attorney at Law, PLLC in Greensboro; Harriet Smalls, an attorney at Smith Moore Leatherwood in Greensboro; and Daniel Rattray, regional council for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Winston-Salem.

Schaede, a former registered nurse whose clients typically consist of healthcare practitioners, encouraged students who do not have a background in healthcare to find a way to gather a knowledge base in the field before pursuing a legal career in this practice area.

The panelists also addressed the affects of healthcare reform on their work. While Smalls and Rattray said there had been no noticeable effect on the way they conduct business thus far, Van Der Vaart and Schaede have noticed some changes, mainly in the consolidation of smaller practices into larger ones.

One of the main goals of the Society for Health Law and Bioethics is to help students enhance their knowledge of healthcare law and to provide opportunities for interaction and networking with industry professionals through events like the Health Law Panel.

“While many students have questions about developing a career in health law, there are several more who are uncertain as to what the practice of health law actually entails,” Robert Webster, a second-year law student and vice president of Society for Health Law and Bioethics, said. “The panelists were able to discuss not only their respective career paths but also the wide range of issues they encounter throughout their day-to-day practice.”

The event was moderated by Phillip Clontz, a third-year law student and president of the Society for Health Law and Bioethics, and followed by a short reception.

By Courtney Roller L’13