Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2005




American Health Lawyers Association and Saint Louis University School of Law




This Article examines three questions: What is public health? What is public health law? What roles can lawyers play in public health? It first describes the breadth of public health, highlighting six trends shaping its future: social determinants of health; synergy between medicine and public health; shifts in focus from external (e.g., environmental and social) to internal (behavioral) risks to health; federalization of public health law; globalization of health risks and responses; and bioterrorism. Because the domains of law that apply to public health are equally broad, the Article next offers a conceptual framework for identifying the types of laws most suitable to different public health problems. Finally, the role of lawyers in the applied field of public health law is examined, first to encourage attention to law's effect on health, even laws having little apparent relationship to health; and second, to recognize that laws intended to achieve specific health outcomes may affect broader legal principles. Lawyers have a unique role to play in ensuring that the legal principles used to promote health also preserve justice.

Find on SSRN



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.