Did you go to school for something other than law? Are you interested in changing careers or merging your passions? We had the pleasure of sitting down with Western State’s Paul Arshagouni, associate dean of academic affairs and professor, to learn about his transition from medicine to law.
Q: Prior to going to law school, you had a career in medicine. What inspired you to pursue a law degree?
A: I had set my mind on being a doctor when I was in kindergarten and saw that goal through. I initially planned on family practice but moved to pediatrics. During residency, I noticed some policies didn’t make sense and that sparked my interest in health policy. I realized that attorneys have a huge role in healthcare law and regulation. If I wanted to make a larger impact, I needed to become a lawyer. I left my job in healthcare and went to law school.
Q: What does healthcare law entail, and do you think it is important that individuals have a background in medicine?
A: Healthcare law is a broad field that focuses on regulations and policies around patients’ access to care, insurance, provider scopes of work, regulations for health centers, Medicare and more. While I have a background in healthcare, it is not necessary. In fact, most attorneys that practice healthcare law don’t have a medical background, and that is also true for most legal professionals in their respective fields. However, to be successful in any role, it requires attorneys to learn about the business they are consulting and advising in. For healthcare law, that can include earning a master’s degree in public health or simply taking a range of healthcare related courses during law school.
Q: What advice do you have for students interested in healthcare law?
A: Whether a student is pursuing healthcare law or a different practice area, it is important to know what motivates you and your interests. If you are not interested in your work and do not enjoy what you are doing, you won’t do it well. Healthcare law is the second most regulated behind nuclear, so if you are passionate about regulatory and administrative law and how it operates, it could be a strong fit.
Q: What do you think sets Western State apart from other law schools?
A: A lot of law schools tout that they are a family, but at Western State it is true. Our small class sizes make it possible for our students and faculty to get to know each other. In addition, our professors care about our students and their success. They bring real-world experience to the classroom to help our students leave practice-ready! Furthermore, I am proud of our diversity across the student and faculty body which enhances the experience for all.
After a successful career in healthcare law, Professor Arshagouni followed his next passion – moving to academia. When he started at Western State in 2014 he played an integral role developing an online master’s program in health law compliance. In his current role, he is responsible for designing the course schedule for each semester, providing academic counsel to students and supervising adjunct professors. Outside of his career at Western State, Professor Arshagouni loves spending time with his family, including his 15-year-old daughter. In addition, he enjoys ceramics and pottery. Similar to helping students who are new to law become top lawyers, he loves seeing a lump of clay transform into something enduring and beautiful.
Interested in seeing where a degree in law could take you? Contact our admissions team.