Health law has evolved over the past two decades from what was seen as a purely advocacy legal discipline, in which the rights of health care professionals required protection and promotion in a heavily regulated scheme of accountability, into a broad spectrum legal discipline requiring lawyers with business law, tax law, not-for-profit and charities law, and mergers and acquisitions law backgrounds to familiarize themselves with the legal rules and regulations that govern the delivery of health care, the conflict of interest rules that govern health professionals, and the regulatory framework that governs joint ventures in the health care industry and health care business at all levels. Health law has now become a very highly specialized area of practice in respect of business and tax law, in addition to the requirement for ongoing advocacy services to protect health care professionals and providers.
In the legal world today, a business deal or joint venture involving any combination of a non-insured health service and an insured health service is not just a regular transaction from a legal advice perspective. Lawyers providing advice in this area must have background knowledge and expertise in the various legal instruments, statutes, regulations, policy statements and governance requirements in place in the applicable jurisdiction.
Lawyers representing health care professionals or providers who wish to joint venture with pharmaceutical companies in advancing medical science with research or drug studies must be aware of the rules for both parties as to who can receive grants or donations and what type of corporate entity must be structured to avoid the conflict of interest rules. In ventures between the not-for-profit sector and the for-profit health care sector, the structure must be carefully crafted so as not to expose the parties to the risk of prosecution for offences either through the statutory accountability scheme or through self-governing legislation. Advocacy services to health professionals and providers, while still an essential component of health law today, have become a small segment of the health law Bar.