The Dalhousie Health Justice Institute at the Schulich School of Law offers expertise in health law and policy with a focus on the issues that will impact the professional practices of our cross-disciplinary students.

Since 1999, HJI has provided JD and graduate students (LLM and JSD) with one of the largest collections of health law and policy classes in Canada.

In addition to our offering a Health Law & Policy specialization to Schulich School of Law students, we also offer lectures and classes to students in the Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Health at the undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education levels.

JD Program

The Health Justice Institute at Dalhousie University is a distinctive interdisciplinary institute of the Faculties of Law, Medicine, Health Professions and Dentistry. Students wishing to specialize in Health Law & Policy have the option of obtaining a certificate of specialization while completing the three year JD degree.

Health Law & Policy Specialization

Dalhousie is taking the lead when it comes to raising a new generation of students trained in health law. Our program prepares graduates to excel in one of the fastest growing areas of practice.

Health Law & Policy Specialization Requirements

In the upper years of the JD program, students may specialize in Health Law and Policy and the specialization will be recognized on their academic transcript. To specialize in Health Law and Policy, a student must take Health Law (or Healthcare Law if enrolled in the JD/MHA program) and three additional elective classes.

These classes may be selected from the health law curriculum: 

As well, any combination of Health Law and Policy: Current Issues I or II may be taken for a combined total of two credits and are counted as one elective for purposes of the specialization.

One other major paper class (two, in exceptional circumstances) may also serve as an elective toward the specialization.  The paper outline must be approved in writing by the Director of the Health Law Institute before the paper is written, and the final paper is subject to review for sufficient health law content. 

If a student is participating in an exchange program, s/he can request that one course from that exchange be credited towards the specialization.  The course, if approved, can serve as one of the electives in the specialization; it cannot replace a required course in the specialization.  The course cannot duplicate a course that the student has taken at the Schulich School of Law.  If the course is approved, the student will not be subsequently permitted to receive credit for a course at Schulich which, in the opinion of the Director, has undue overlap with the course taken on exchange.  The burden is on the student to demonstrate that the substance and quality of the course fits within the parameters of the specialization, for example, by providing the course description, syllabus, etc.  The student must have the course approved by the Director of the specialization prior to taking the course.  The Director of the specialization has the final authority to approve the request.

All classes counted towards satisfaction of the Health Law and Policy Specialization requirements must be completed with no grade below C, and a weighted average in those courses of at least B (i.e., 70).

Where the Health Law Placement is included as one of the four credits, a minimum grade of Pass is required but will not be factored into the calculated average.

Students interested in registering for the Health Law and Policy Specialization program must contact the Director of the program at as early as possible and ideally at the start of second year.

Register for the Health Law Certificate

NOTE:  Except where noted above regarding exchange studies, for the purposes of any Schulich School of Law certificate program, only those courses pursued at the Schulich School of Law during the student's JD studies which lead to successful completion of a Dalhousie University JD degree will be recognized.  Students are not permitted to count a course towards more than one certificate.

Graduate Program

Graduate students are welcomed from across the country and around the globe.  While there is no Health Law and Policy specialization annotation for LLM transcripts, all of the classes (with the exception of the Health Law Placement and a Health Law exchange) are open to LLM students. In addition, LLM students may do their supervised thesis research within the Health Law and Policy field.

Health Justice Institute faculty members offer a breadth of experience in areas such as:

  • conscientious refusals and health care
  • privacy and confidentiality of health information
  • food security in the Canadian north
  • public health emergencies
  • end of life treatment policy and practice
  • commercialization of biomedical research
  • emergency contraception
  • neuroethics
  • health care in correctional systems
  • death determinations in intensive care units
  • patient safety
  • research involving humans
  • migrant health risks and needs
  • federal-Indigenous health care transfers
  • foetal/maternal rights
  • harm reduction and safe abortions
  • mental capacity and medical decision-making
  • HIV/AIDS policy
  • mental health; and
  • criminal law/sentencing and health.

Learn more about graduate admissions and scholarships at Schulich School of Law.

Interdisciplinary PhD

It is also possible to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD drawing on such disciplines as philosophy, law, and medicine. Each program of study will be unique and must be negotiated with the Faculty of Graduate Studies and prospective faculty supervisors.

Exchange Opportunities

Schulich School of Law offers several exchange opportunities for law students. Of special interest to Health Law students is a term at the University of Houston Law Centre or at the Queensland University of Technology (Australia).  Both have well-established Health Law programs.