Course Description
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Course Description:

The year-long seminar with no more than 16 students will study the existing law applicable to the privacy of medical records and draft a comprehensive model statute on the subject. Some of the topics to be addressed include: medical information that can be collected; limits on its use, retention, and distribution; permitted or prohibited uses related to research, insurance, employment, etc.; restrictions on collection and distribution of genetic information; penalties and immunities with respect to the use and misuse of information; intrafamily access to information; and the like.

During the fall semester the class will define the scope of the statute. Students will then undertake substantial research projects in order to identify existing law and develop competing ideas and approaches for addressing the identified issues. These projects (in the form of extensive research papers and reports) will form the basis upon which the seminar, functioning as a drafting committee in which the policy and technical decisions are made collectively by the students, will further define and vote upon the scope and policies for a comprehensive statute. Further research memoranda on specific topics will be undertaken through the year as the statute takes specific shape.

By the end of the first semester, students will be assigned portions of the proposed statute to draft. Beginning in January the seminar will meet at least weekly, often in long evening sessions, to review, revise, and refine the statutory language in the Act. The completed model act, with explanatory and analytical commentary, will be distributed to various groups and organizations in advance of a public hearing to be held on the Act. Following the public hearing, final revisions will be made, and the Model Act will be published.

The seminar will meet in the evenings throughout the academic year on an as needed basis. The normal class session will be on Wednesday evenings, beginning as early as 5:30, and often lasting for 4 to 6 hours. Meetings also will be held, on occasion, on other evenings or on the weekends (particularly late in the final drafting stages when extended time is needed for debate and negotiations among the drafting group).

A substantial time commitment is demanded for this seminar. Because each student’s work and commitment affects everyone else, strict expectations about effort, deadlines, and commitment to the task will be enforced. In light of the substantial commitment expected of each student, the seminar is credited as follows: Academic credits: three credits per semester; Writing Credits: 4.

Enrollment is limited to16 students. Because a few students in the seminar may come from graduate programs other than law, students who wish to register for the seminar are required to provide the following information to the instructors: name, class, undergraduate major, work experience, and other interests or information they believe would be relevant to the project. Professors Bezanson and Kurtz will consider this information as appropriate in selecting the students for the seminar. No drops or withdrawals will be permitted.

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