Two Penn Law Students Embody Interdisciplinary Health Law Program by LawCrossing


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Two Penn Law Students Embody Interdisciplinary Health Law Program
[by Erica Winter]
Some students think that getting a J.D. is tough--and they’re right. All law students work hard. Some students, however, never seem to get enough.

Holly Fernandez and Cobin Stoelberg could          Fernandez’s article, “Genetic Privacy,              Penn Law “makes it easy for law students
be said to be in the latter group. Both are        Abandonment, and DNA Dragnets: Is Fourth            to get their master’s,” says Stoelberg. The
second-year law students at the University         Amendment Jurisprudence Adequate?”                  bioethics degree is “a wonderful program.”
of Pennsylvania, and both are concentrating        examines whether people can have a reason-          Stoelberg was drawn to Penn Law and its
in health law--an area of study that, at Penn      able expectation of privacy for their own DNA       joint degree program after discovering Art
Law, fosters multitasking.                         and genetic material and whether material           Kaplan’s writing while a philosophy major at
                                                   that is left behind can be considered “aban-        the University of Utah. “Seeing hurdles that
Stoelberg has completed two years of medi-         doned,” and therefore not private.                  doctors face in hospitals” while in medical
cal school at the University of Utah. He has                                                           school sealed his goals, he says.
taken a leave of absence before he finishes        This question is a “huge problem,” says
his third year of med-school classroom work        Fernandez. Because the issue has not been           Before starting at law school, Stoelberg
to get a J.D. from Penn Law and a master’s         adjudicated, there is no reason now to              says he “did not understand the depth and
degree in bioethics (MBE) as well.                 expect privacy, and thus legislation would be       breadth” of the field of health law. It is not
                                                   needed to adequately address the issue, says        only healthcare fraud, payer issues, and
Fernandez turned down Harvard Law to stay          Fernandez. “It is impossible to not leave DNA       malpractice lawsuits, but also regulation,
at Penn, her undergraduate alma mater, so          around” everywhere we go, but without the           intellectual property, and contracts issues,
she could also receive her MBE along with          expectation of genetic privacy, people might        he says.
her J.D.                                           end up wanting to walk around in some sort
                                                   of bubble.                                          Doctors, says Stoelberg, confront many
Fernandez and Stoelberg are not unusual                                                                bioethical issues in their work, including
at Penn Law, where students can take four          Fernandez applied to the bioethics program          death/end-of-life care; duty-to-treat issues,
elective courses at other parts of the univer-     when she applied to Penn Law but did not            physician-assisted suicide; and access to
sity while in law school. Many who are focus-      start classes for the MBE until her second          healthcare for the uninsured.
ing their study on health law like Fernandez       year. Many in the program apply during their
and Stoelberg use these electives towards a        first year in law school; the MBE takes two         This coming summer, Stoelberg is consider-
joint degree, usually in bioethics, through the    years to complete.                                  ing possibly working at the Department of
Bioethics Center, or in business, through the                                                          Health and Human Services’ Office of the
Wharton School of Business at Penn.                Despite some advice to choose Harvard Law,          Inspector General or one of the larger Phila-
                                                   Fernandez says she “was really happy that I         delphia law firms. He would like to see what
Among other issues, privacy is one legal           chose Penn in the end.” Penn Law’s integra-         law firm life is like, yet his ultimate plan is to
question that draws Fernandez to bioethics,        tion of degrees and disciplines is “a really big    finish his medical degree. “I am more drawn
she says. While fulfilling Penn’s pro bono         plus here,” she adds.                               to practicing medicine,” he says.
service requirement, Fernandez worked with
Dr. Art Kaplan, the head of Penn’s Bioethics       Because she would like to do regulatory work        With his joint degree from Penn, however,
Center and an expert in the field. She as-         after graduation, this coming summer Fer-           Stoelberg will choose a specialty (such as
sisted him in his work regarding genetic pri-      nandez will work at the Washington, DC, firm        internal medicine or emergency medicine)
vacy issues. Her work with Dr. Kaplan led to       Hogan & Hartson. Regulatory work is the             that also allows him to have the time to help
her writing an article that will be published in   closest intersection of law and bioethics she       shape national healthcare policy.
the January/February issue of the Hastings         would find at a law firm, says Fernandez.
Center Report, a leading bioethics journal.


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