Ramana Rameswaran answers audience questions offline that weren’t answered due to time constraints in last week’s webinar, Career Choice Series: Health Law.
Muthuramanan (“Ramana”) Rameswaran is an associate at Arent Fox LLP’s DC office in its health care regulatory department and represents health care providers, hospitals, pharmacies, medical device companies, and others in corporate and regulatory matters. Ramana was a former medical school student that left to become an attorney. He previously worked in the Philadelphia region at Temple University Health System, Inc., and then went to Fox Rothschild LLP. He is currently the ABA Health Law Section’s Young Lawyer Liaison to its governing council.
Q: How can I break into the field and what can I do now to assist me in breaking into the field?
A: Take a peek at the other law student / young lawyer podcasts the ABA’s Health Law Section has sponsored in the past on similar topics
Showing enthusiasm and interest!!! I know that’s easier said than done but resume building, especially as a law student and young lawyer does not have to be job experience, it can be other experiences too. Here are a few ways to do so (at least in my non-expert opinion):
(1) Health Law Classes. Take health law related classes, if possible, and highlight it whenever you send a resume or cover letter. Don’t fret if your school doesn’t offer health law classes there are plenty of things you can still do to show enthusiasm.
(2) Attend Health Law Meetings. Attend your local bar’s health care meetings or better yet an ABA Health Law Section conference! You should check out the ABA Health Law Section’s law student scholarship program for its Emerging Issues Conference and apply to it!
(3) Get Involved with the Health Law Bar. Each society, including ABA HLS offers opportunities to get involved, either by writing, presenting, or assisting other attorneys in some form of liaison role. If your local society doesn’t have this option, present it to the leader, generally folks love the help.
(4) Writing. Seek out opportunities to get your name out there by writing something. Sometimes writing opportunities can be as easy as summarizing an article, and other times you can create a truly scholarly work and have it published or compete in a health law writing competition.
(5) Translate other Experiences to Health Law. Gain experience in a field where you can connect it with health law and make the most of it. I worked for a non-healthcare entity, but learned a lot about general contracting principles and risk management. That non-healthcare experience absolutely translates into healthcare experience.
(6) Network, Network, Network! First you have to get out there and meet folks. I have found health care attorneys genuinely are nice people and would be happy to spend a few minutes chatting with you and even connect you with others if they can. Most importantly, don’t forget to keep in touch with the folks you meet. For me, LinkedIn and Twitter has been a wonderful way to do this!
Q: Do you need to have previous health care industry experience to be a health lawyer?
A: Having some experience can be helpful and helps show why you are interested, but it’s not a requirement at all. In fact, a vast majority of the people I have met in the health law bar do not have a previous history with healthcare. I would, however, recommend that when applying for a job, health law or otherwise, you tailor your resume for the position and highlight the experiences you have had that would best fit a position.
Q: Any other advice?
A: One of the partners in the health law bar once told me that she declined a *stellar* candidate because on their resume they referred to a health care law incorrectly (Stark law as STARK law). She said it was a red flag and it was as if the candidate thought that the word was an acronym that stood for something else. While buzz words and jargon can be sometimes be a good idea to use, I would caution you to only use them if you are totally sure of what it means (and how to capitalize it).
My biggest piece of advice is to get out there and NETWORK! Beyond networking in person or at various ABA and local Health Law events, I actually would email and even “real mail” senior attorneys within the health law bar. Not everyone is going to be able to hand you a job, and honestly that was never my primary intention when I spoke with people. I learned a LOT just by seeking advice from attorneys that were more senior than me. Sometimes I would learn more about job opportunities or about what the firm is looking for in a candidate. Remember, even if a person cannot give you a job, you’ve made a connection, and you never know where that is going to lead!
Resources and Tips for Networking from ABA Legal Career Central