Employer Outreach Visit: American Dental Association

There is no shortage of job postings for health law attorneys and compliance professionals and the work in the health law field covers a wide range of different practice areas and practice settings. Big law firms, corporations, human resources departments, state and federal government agencies, and public interest organizations all have a need for candidates with health law expertise. If you’re looking to build your knowledge and experience in an area with many job opportunities, health law is a great place to work.

And if you’re interested in pursuing a health law career, you should consider interning or externing at the  American Dental Association Division of Legal Affairs in Chicago.

Today, I met with Jeffrey Fraum, Senior Associate General Counsel, and a contracts specialist and Paula Tironi, Senior Associate General Counsel, and a specialist in health law and data privacy at the American Dental Association Division of Legal Affairs to learn more about the American Dental Association, their work, and the types of assignments that interns and externs working in the office can expect to receive. (Paula and Jeff supervise all externs and interns that work for the ADA Division of Legal Affairs.)

What is the American Dental Association?

Founded in 1859, the not-for-profit American Dental Association is the nation’s largest dental association, representing more than 161,000 dentist members.  Since then, the ADA has grown to become the leading source of oral health related information for dentists and their patients.  The ADA is committed to its members and to the improvement of oral health for the public. The vision of the ADA is to be the recognized leader on oral health with its mission to help all members succeed.

More than 300 oral health products, including toothpastes, dental floss, toothbrushes, mouth rinses, denture adherents and chewing gum carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance, universally recognized by consumers as a symbol of safety and effectiveness.  The philanthropic arm of the ADA provides scholarships for dental students, advocates for children’s dental health and supplies disaster relief to members in need.

The ADA Division of Legal Affairs actively and enthusiastically advances the ADA’s Mission & Vision for the public’s oral health by protecting, defending and advocating for the legal rights and interests of the ADA. There are 10 lawyers working in the ADA Division of Legal Affairs and each of them have different specialties but they all frequently collaborate as a team.

Externing or Interning at the ADA Division of Legal Affairs

The ADA Division of Legal Affairs takes externs through Notre Dame’s Law in Chicago program and takes interns over 1L and 2L summer. They will take up to 3 externs at any given time. Students working at the ADA Division of Legal Affairs are not eligible to receive federal work study funding but are eligible to receive law school funding.

To apply, send a resume, writing sample, transcript, and cover letter to:

Lisa Schnick, Manager, Business Administrative Services
Phone:  312-440-2524
Email:  schnickl@ada.org

Resumes demonstrating an interest in health care law and students who have completed their second year of law school are highly preferred.

Typical Work and Projects Assigned:  The extern’s work in the Division of Legal Affairs will be largely research, writing, and legal analysis.  The writing will be diverse.  At times, the writing will be for lawyers; and other times it will be for dentists.  The research will take the extern into areas that he or she has not studied in law school and should help to bridge the gap between what the extern was taught and what he or she will likely be doing when practicing law.  The extern may be given legal assignments that will require legal analysis with reference to issues, often issues without direct legal precedent.

Paula and Jeff explained to me that the ADA Division of Legal Affairs is the best fit for  a student who is interested in health law, eager to take initiative, and looking to improve their writing skills. Much of what externs work on requires translating complex regulations into easy to understand language for dentists and other dental professionals. Externs are not necessarily going to write official memos as they would while working at a law firm. Instead, the ADA relies on externs to draft documents for laypeople.

Externs may get the chance to work on corporate issues, (Jeff was a corporate attorney at a big law firm earlier in his career) intellectual property issues, privacy issues, compliance, HIPAA, and other issues. The ADA Division of Legal Affairs does not do a great deal of litigation so externs could not expect to work on litigation heavy projects.

ADA interns and externs are encouraged to always work on 2-3 assignments at a time and regularly touch base with Paula and Jeff about the assignments they have completed to make sure they are getting the chance to work on a wide variety of issues.

The Externship Experience Beyond Work Assignments

Paula and Jeff supervise all students and are very active in providing mentoring, feedback on writing assignments, and encouraging externs to network. Jeff frequently takes students to Association of Corporate Counsel CLEs such as this one on the Uniform Commercial Code with speakers from Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Chicago while Paula frequently brings externs to talks given by data privacy professionals in Chicago. Jeff strongly encourages externs to email the speakers after the event to let them know that they really enjoyed the talk and found the event useful so that externs are building connections for their long-term careers.

Paula and Jeff have an open door policy and encourage externs to take initiative, ask questions, get feedback, and stop in for a 15 minute conversation if they ever need clarification about an assignment.

Students frequently attend staff meetings, council meetings (the ADA has a variety of different Councils such as the Council on Ethics, Bylaws & Judicial Affairs and the Council on Dental Education and Licensure), and get involved in various aspects of the office. In other words, if you extern at the ADA, you will not just be sitting at your desk all day.

Paula and Jeff take a special interest in students’ careers, encouraging students to keep lists of projects they are completing so that they are ready to update their resumes with their ADA work experience and introducing them to people in the health law field.

Previous ADA Division of Legal Affairs interns and externs have gone on to work at big law firms, for the American Medical Association, and for other health law organizations.

Paula and Jeff emphasized that you learn a great deal from your co-workers. They encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from those around them throughout their careers and actively seek to better themselves with feedback from peers. While externing, they have seen students benefit from circulating drafts to each other before giving them to their supervisors.

If you’re interested in interning or externing at the ADA Division of Legal Affairs, contact me and I will be happy to discuss the opportunity with you.



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