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Melissa Snyder JD/MBE ‘09 on her cross-disciplinary legal studies

October 27, 2011

Melissa Snyder JD/MBE ‘09 chose to attend Penn Law because of her desire for an innovative cross-disciplinary legal education. 

The Law School offers students the ability to maximize their educational experience by participating in one of 30 joint degree or certificate programs, designed to capitalize on the strategic advantage of being connected to Penn’s other elite schools and departments and which sit closely together on the University’s campus.

The Law School’s cross-disciplinary approach provides future lawyers skills and insights in the law and the fields in which lawyers must navigate for their clients. Snyder recently shared her experience at the Law School and the Bioethics department with Penn Law’s Office of Communications for a video feature.



My name is Melissa Snyder. I graduated in 2009 from Penn with a JD and a Masters in Bioethics. I am an associate at a health law practice group at the law firm Duane Morris.

As an associate at Duane Morris, I work on a variety of litigation, transactional, and regulatory matters for healthcare clients. I decided to go to law school while I was working as a health educator. I was exposed to the health care industry and I saw that it was complex, highly regulated, and constantly changing. I saw issues that intersected both health and law. For example, informed consent and patient confidentiality, and I wanted to increase my ability to advocate and solve problems for people in the health care field, as I am doing today. Whether that be helping a non-profit nursing home gain the approvals needed to sell their business or helping a hospital interpret and comply with the Medicare conditions of participation.
I think the cross-disciplinary focus at Penn Law was one of the main reasons I decided to go to Penn Law. I really wanted to be able to take classes outside of the Law School, as well, and I wanted a program that was very well integrated. I also wanted the opportunity to interact with and engage with the same types of health care professionals that I am working with today in practice. So, for example in my class at the law school in privacy law we learned about the laws and regulations governing patient confidentiality. And then, in my bioethics classes, which I was taking with physicians, medical students, dentists, research study coordinators, I was able to hear their perspectives on HIPPA; how did they implement it, how did they deal with it on a day to day basis? This type of perspective helps me and makes me better situated today to help clients.
The advice I would give is to take advantage of all of the opportunities that Penn Law has to offer. That includes broadening your horizons and going out to the wider Penn campus and pursing opportunities there.  I think one great thing about Penn Law is that you have the opportunity and the access to these other wonderful institutes, programs, departments and the ability to gain not only legal knowledge but also knowledge about the industry within which you want to practice. That is going to put you in a position, a better position, to represent and advocate for your clients.
Transcript edited for length.