Loyola University Chicago

Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy

School of Law

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From Student to Teacher

From Student to Teacher
Shawn Mathis mentors LLM students and coaches them through the thesis process as a thesis advisor.
Sharmi Mahajan works with MJ students as they embark on their educational journey in their first law school course and also serves as a thesis advisor.

Shawn Mathis

Of Counsel, Montgomery & Andrews, P.A., Santa Fe, NM

BA, University of Texas

JD, University of Houston
LLM, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Courses Taught:
LLM Thesis Project Term 1
LLM Thesis Project Term 2 

What drew you to a career in health care law?  
Health law is a growing practice area, and is one that I could build upon my previous legal experience representing clients in highly regulated industries.

What are the most important skills you look for in young attorneys and professionals considering a career in health care law and policy?  
While attention to detail is important in any lawyer, this is even more important in the health law field.  Also, this is a practice area with layers of overlapping regulatory and statutory requirements that are constantly changing.  Therefore, excellent research skills and a love of doing research are critical.

What do you like most about teaching Loyola students?
I am sure that I learn as much or more from the students as they do from me.  I am a thesis advisor, which is a combination of mentor, coach and peer reviewer.  It gives me great pleasure to observe the arc of a student's improvement over the semester and to share in the student's pride and sense of accomplishment when the thesis is completed.

You graduated from Loyola’s LLM in Health Law program. What did you enjoy most about your experience as a student here?  
I was a full-time LLM student, as I took a year off from my private law practice.  I chose Loyola because of its comprehensive course offerings in the area of health law and policy, and the strength of its faculty, many of whom are former and current health law practitioners.

What advice do you have for students preparing to write their thesis paper?
Build on your strengths.  Without exception, each one of my thesis students has had a unique background in terms of legal or work experience that provides a solid foundation for a thesis.  Choose a topic that interests you and for which you have a sufficient legal education or other background as a starting point.   At the same time, understand that the thesis is a work of legal scholarship, not a memoir or clinical paper.

What do you enjoy most about teaching online?
Through the online program, I am able to interact with students from across the country, most of whom are employed in positions in the private sector or in government that touch upon some aspect of health care.   Reviewing and editing thesis papers is a great way for me to keep up to date with cutting edge issues in the field of health law and policy.

Sharmi Mahajan

Strategic Management Services, LLC

BA/BS, McMaster University
MPH, Yale University
JD, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
LLM, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Courses Taught:
MJ Thesis Project, Term 1
MJ Thesis Project, Term 2
Introduction to Legal Study and Legal Writing  

What drew you to a career in health law?
I enjoy learning about the diverse topics that fall under the umbrella of health law.  To learn health law is to also learn about corporate, administrative, criminal and constitutional law, for example.  Not only does this make the health law field interesting and challenging, it gives me a better understanding of society’s overarching and interconnected systems and laws.

What are the most important skills you look for in young professionals considering a career in compliance or law?
Successful health law and compliance professionals should be comfortable in a rapidly changing environment.  They should be able to keep up with all of the resulting legal and compliance challenges.  Further, young professionals should note that answers to health law and compliance questions often arise from non-traditional research sources.  Young professionals should therefore be creative, smart researchers and diligent investigators.  Finally, health care and compliance professionals should have great writing and communication skills to seek the right information and relay answers to their clients or employers.

What do you like most about teaching online?
The flexibility with class and conference scheduling enables me to plan my time effectively.  As a result, I have more availability to communicate with my students.  This helps me provide more effective feedback on assignments.

What is your advice for students preparing to write their theses?
Students should approach both of the Thesis 1 & 2 courses with a success plan; they should prepare to do some of the “heavy lifting” upfront.  This will prevent panic and give you (and your professor) ample time to edit, revise and perfect your end product for both thesis terms.  Also, remember that a comprehensive thesis outline makes for a better paper!

Any tips on what makes students most successful in one your courses?
Legal study and writing requires different techniques and perspectives than what most students are used to.  Expect that learning a new study paradigm will be challenging and embrace that challenge!  Students should ask many questions to ensure that they truly understand course and assignment expectations.  Also, students should keep in regular communication with their professors.  Take advantage of the one-on-one feedback to stay on track.