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Course Spotlight: Administrative Law

USC Gould School of Law • August 23, 2023
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This fall USC Gould’s Graduate & International Programs (G&IP) office is offering a new online course – Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy. In the Q&A below, the faculty lead Felicia E. Heimer, JD, MPH, shares what this course covers and why it is important to have an understanding of administrative law as a professional.

What course will you be teaching this fall?
Administrative Law and Regulatory Policy.

This course provides an introduction to administrative law and the legal rules and principles governing state and federal agency regulation. We will discuss the authorities of government agencies, including their rulemaking, adjudicatory, and enforcement functions. The relationship among federal agencies, the executive branch, the legislature, and the judiciary will also be explored, as well as the role of various California state agencies, including the Office of Administrative Law. The course will conclude with a discussion of emerging issues in administrative law, including judicial review of agency actions, challenges to agency policymaking, as well as the very future of the administrative state.

The course is open to students in the online Master of Studies in Law (MSL) and online Master of Laws (LLM) degree programs.

Can you tell us about your professional background?

 Felicia E. Heimer, JD, MPH

I am a senior attorney with the Office of Inspector General at the United States Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) where I represent the agency on healthcare fraud and compliance matters as part of OIG’s role in overseeing Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs. I also serve as OIG’s coordinator for quality of care and patient safety cases, and advise colleagues on matters involving allegations of patient harm, abuse, and neglect, as well as the provision of substandard healthcare services.

Prior to entering government service, I worked for a global litigation advisory firm assisting health systems, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and their boards of directors in responding to government investigations and conducting internal compliance reviews. After graduating from law school and earning my MPH degree, I began my legal career at an academic medical center and research institute in Los Angeles. I am a frequent speaker at national health law conferences and a member of the California Bar.

Why is it important to have an understanding of administrative law as a professional?
Administrative law directly affects our everyday lives as we interact with local, state, and federal administrative agencies, or are impacted by the regulations that those agencies enact and enforce. Evaluating the ingredients that are listed on the products one consumes, receiving and paying a parking ticket, filing federal and state tax returns, and appealing a surcharge that was added to an electricity bill – all of these routine activities tie to a government entity exerting some influence pursuant to its legal administrative authority.

From a professional perspective, the reach of the modern administrative state is extensive – it touches public health services, the safety of food, drugs and healthcare services, national security, financial markets, social services administration, immigration policy, consumer protection, and environmental regulation – and this is not an exhaustive list. Understanding how the government works and the basic principles of how regulations are enacted, implemented, enforced, and tested by the courts, has broad applicability for people working in many professions and across all industry sectors.

What do you want potential students to know about learning administrative law?
This course not only provides a thorough overview of administrative law, but also presents students with opportunities to consider the larger policy implications of administrative regulation and enforcement. I particularly look forward to engaging in weekly discussions with students and sharing my personal perspectives that have been formed while serving as an attorney for the federal government over the last 20 years.

Can you share potential career outcomes for students interested in administrative law?
There are countless opportunities for lawyers and non-lawyers to pursue careers within administrative agencies. These careers include regulatory personnel who participate in the process of issuing and implementing regulations through drafting, reviewing, and updating rules.

They also include law enforcement personnel and civil investigators who execute an agency’s oversight responsibility and develop enforcement actions against companies and individuals that fail to comply with regulations.

Policy analysts work to identify problems and develop solutions to make agency functions more efficient and ensure that the government is best serving its constituents.

Auditors and evaluators work across administrative agencies to determine whether there is any waste or abuse within the services that the agency administers.

Finally, attorneys and non-attorneys may pursue positions within various legal offices across administrative agencies to handle cases involving allegations of fraud, ethics violations, security breaches, labor and employment disputes, or to handle appeals by companies and citizens who argue that they have been adversely impacted or improperly sanctioned by the administrative agency. It is a dynamic field.

How does your career inform the coursework?
My position within a federal administrative agency provides me with a “real world” perspective regarding the many issues that we will be covering in this course. In particular, the course includes a weekly module highlighting the role and function of my specific agency – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – and I will enjoy sharing with my students the important role that this agency plays in the lives of all residents and the critical services it provides to the most vulnerable within communities across our country.

Is there anything you would want potential students to know about the LLM and MSL coursework and classroom experience?
The coursework was developed to ensure that there is practical relevance and students will have an opportunity to draw from their own personal interests and experiences in determining their specific topics for several assignments. I will strive for an interactive classroom experience, particularly during our live, virtual lectures each week.

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