This February, a team of University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students flexed their health law knowledge and took home an impressive second-place prize at the 11th Annual University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Health Law Regulatory & Compliance Competition.
During the competition, students Henry Fisher L’24, MPH’24; Evelyn Mangold L’24, MPH’24; and Katherine Rohde L’23, had 24 hours to analyze a complicated fact pattern and prepare two presentations advising their mock clients on the series of regulatory complications. The team evaluated issues related to antitrust, COVID policies, HIPAA, healthcare fraud, and telehealth, among others.
“I suppose who is going to decide to do a 24-hour Friday night health law competition is kind of self-selecting,” Rohde said. “But that was fun, so we all holed up at Evelyn’s place and had an evening full of health law.”
A shared goal of practicing health law post-graduation drew Fisher, Mangold, and Rohde to the competition; still, each brought different substantive knowledge to the team. To tackle the fact pattern with efficiency, the team decided to divide the issues and play to each of their individual strengths and educational backgrounds.
“I think one thing that intrigued all of us about this competition was we all knew each other were interested in health law, but we’ve never had an opportunity to work as a group. The competition itself is an issue spotter, so it was similar to an exam except we were working as a team and there really weren’t any stakes. It was more like, ‘Let’s see what we know and how well we do,’” Mangold said. “While we’re all interested in health law, we also all have very different specific interests and very different strengths. It was a fun experience to build off of each other in that way.”
Once the research was complete, the team had to compile the information into two 15-minute presentations, which would be scored by a panel of health law practitioners. For Fisher, condensing the vast amount of information the team had collected into succinct presentations was among the most challenging aspects of the competition.
“We had to figure out how to distill these often very complex issues into more granular talking points. Something that you could talk about for 15 minutes on its own had to be squeezed into a four-sentence paragraph,” Fisher said. “That was pretty challenging, but I think we were able to overcome it in large part due to our collaboration with each other, by checking and weighing the issues against one another.”
Fisher, Mangold, and Rohde all emphasized that one of the most valuable aspects of participating in the competition was the opportunity to engage with concepts in a way that felt relevant to their plans post-graduation. The competition allowed them to practice applying what they have been learning in the classroom in a simulated — but realistic — environment.
“This summer I’ll be working at a firm in their health care regulatory practice, so this is directly what I’m hoping to do this summer and then beyond,” Rohde said.
Not only did the competition help the students hone their substantive health law knowledge, but it also allowed them space to practice more generalized lawyering skills, such as conducting detailed research, translating legal jargon into understandable advice, and collaborating with team members.
“The health law landscape is always changing, but being able to dive into these substantive issues, perform the research necessary in a really condensed time frame, and develop what I think were pretty strong presentations across the board are all valuable skills,” Fisher said. “Beyond that, developing soft skills that aren’t necessarily tied to health law — communication, collaboration with your team, and making sure everybody is on the same page — is also important.”
Rohde underscored the value of engaging with the material through a solutions-focused lens, noting that several courses at the Law School prepared the team to think through pragmatic applications of the law for both private and government clients.
“One of the most interesting parts of this was not only identifying where the problems were, but then identifying, on the private side, what our next steps were, and on the government side, what kind of investigation they may want to go through,” Rohde said. “We were well equipped to do that mostly because of the classes we’ve taken. Both “Health Care Fraud” taught by Adjunct Professor of Law Paul Kaufman and “Health Law and Policy” with Professor of Law Allison Hoffman explore what actual practice looks like in these spaces; they were about more than just the black letter law, but instead the actual reality of being either on a government task force or in a council office.”
Further, Mangold pointed out that the competition’s fact pattern incorporated contemporary issues, such as regulations and policies regarding COVID-19 mask mandates. Being able to practice analyzing — and delivering — such highly relevant information made the competition feel distinctly modern and practical.
“I was focusing on HIPAA and telemedicine, which has changed so much during COVID,” Mangold said. “Getting a crash course on how much everything has shifted, what will stay put, and what is hopefully temporary was fun to dive into.”
In addition to their coursework, Fisher, Mangold, and Rohde expressed gratitude for the support they received from the alumni community throughout this competition. Two years ago, Sophie Beutel L’20, Marissa Fritz L’20, and Simone Hussussian L’20 placed first in the competition. Having already been in contact with Rohde, Hussussian encouraged this year’s team to enter the competition and offered advice as to how best to prepare for it.
Looking ahead, Fisher, Mangold, and Rohde would like to pay the favor forward by supporting students who may want to compete in the competition in the future. To them, continuing to build networks and infrastructure around regulation and compliance career paths is essential to fostering versatility within the Law School.
“The competition was a ton of fun. It teaches you a lot and is a really great experience if you’re passionate about health law,” Fisher said. “If people are interested, they should go for it, and we’d be very willing to help them out.”