The Legal Action Center (LAC) seeks a full-time Staff Attorney in its New York office to work on cutting edge issues related to substance use disorders and health care privacy.
About the Organization: LAC is a private, not-for-profit law and policy organization, with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. LAC is the only organization in the country whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with criminal records, substance use disorders, and/or HIV/AIDS. For over 40 years, LAC has championed a public health approach to addiction and HIV/AIDS, fought mass incarceration, and challenged the myriad collateral consequences of a criminal record. LAC uses a multi-faceted approach involving policy advocacy, education, direct legal services, and impact litigation.
About the issue: LAC is a national expert on and leading advocate for the laws protecting the privacy of alcohol and drug treatment and HIV information. LAC believes that heightened privacy protections are critical to encourage people to seek care and to minimize discrimination that can result from disclosing this sensitive information. The Staff Attorney will join LAC at a time of significant debate over the viability of heightened privacy protections for substance use disorder (SUD) records. The expansion of electronic health records, along with increasing integration of SUD and mental health care with other medical care, have raised new challenges for protecting privacy while also adjusting to a new health care environment. LAC advocates for maintaining strong patient privacy protections for people with SUD while also ensuring that they can benefit from new health care models and technology.
Federal regulations governing the confidentiality of SUD patient records were recently amended for the first time in nearly 30 years in order to adapt to the changing health care environment. The Staff Attorney will play an instrumental role in helping LAC interpret the new rules, educate stakeholders (SUD treatment providers, other health care providers, and government agencies) about them, and respond to any new efforts to weaken privacy protections for SUD patients, who remain vulnerable to discrimination and criminal consequences related to their illness. For more information about LAC’s health privacy work, see the SUD confidentiality page of LAC’s website.
Job Responsibilities: The Staff Attorney will work in LAC’s legal department (which includes five attorneys and four paralegals) and will:
- Participate in, and eventually lead, LAC’s substance use disorder confidentiality work, including:
- analyzing relevant statutes, regulations, and sub-regulatory guidance;
- writing and editing LAC’s publications;
- creating and conducting web-based and in-person trainings;
- speaking at conferences and to the media;
- providing legal counsel to treatment providers through LAC’s telephone hotline;
- providing technical assistance to federal, state, and local government agencies; and
- conducting public policy advocacy to ensure heightened confidentiality protections for substance use disorder records are retained.
- Work on HIV privacy issues in New York, as needed, mainly through LAC’s telephone hotline and publication of educational materials, but potentially through legal services on behalf of individuals facing HIV privacy violations;
- Direct LAC’s legal internship program;
- Work on other LAC legal department issues, as needed and as time permits. Health privacy work will be the prime responsibility in year one and a significant responsibility thereafter. However, the Staff Attorney will eventually participate in some other legal department work, such as direct legal services and impact litigation; and
- Collaborate with staff in the legal, policy, communications, and development departments on issues related to substance use, the criminal justice system, and HIV/AIDS.
The position will report to the Legal Director, but will work very closely with a Senior Staff Attorney.