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Osgoode’s Health Law LLM opened doors for Danielle Douek

January 12, 2024


As a child, Danielle Douek found herself fascinated with encyclopedias of ailments and disease. But she never seriously considered a career in medicine.

“I was terrible at science and math, so being a doctor was never in the cards,” she explains, laughing.

Still, several years out from her 2010 call to the bar, Douek rekindled her love for medicine while working insurance defence files on behalf of hospitals and wondered if there was a way to combine her old passion with her new profession.

“That’s where I really started to get interested in health law,” Douek says. “But the group of firms and lawyers who do health law in Ontario is a pretty select one – especially on the defence side – so I wasn’t sure how to make the jump to that area of practice.”   

She found her answer in OsgoodePD’s Professional LLM in Health Law.

“When you get senior enough as a lawyer without experience in a particular niche, it’s hard to demonstrate your commitment and get someone to take a chance on you,” Douek says. “I did the Health Law LLM to open doors, which is what it did.”

Following her 2017 Osgoode graduation, Douek joined Lerners LLP, where she defends health professionals as a member of the health law group, alongside a complementary education law practice.

“There are privacy, human rights and other institutional issues that come up and are relevant to both practices. But I definitely wouldn’t be doing the job I am now without the masters,” she says.

After ruling out a medical career very early on, Douek admits she still wasn’t entirely sure of her future direction by the time she started a humanities undergraduate program at McGill University. Then, during her second year, she took an LSAT practice test on a whim after seeing a poster ad:   

“I got a really good score – almost perfect – and I thought, OK, I guess it’s meant to be, so I decided to write it again for real,” Douek says.

She earned her LLB on her first trip to Osgoode after the law school granted her early admission following the end of her second year at McGill.  

After breezing into the profession, selecting an area of focus for her practice proved more troublesome for Douek. She kept her options open by summering at a full-service Bay Street firm, followed by articling as a judicial clerk in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, where she gained exposure to a wide variety of civil and criminal trial matters.

After experiencing a number of areas in practice, she ultimately set her heart on a future in health law while working for a mid-sized law firm back in her hometown London.

Douek says she appreciated the flexibility of the Health Law LLM program, which allowed her to attend some classes in person in Toronto and others remotely from home. This was a novelty at the time when Osgoode’s leveraging of videoconferencing software made the school a remote-learning pioneer.

And once the program got underway, Douek says she was pleasantly surprised by how much the students and faculty from non-legal backgrounds had to offer her.

“I learned a ton from physicians, which I had not expected ahead of time. It was interesting to hear their perspectives and the people in health administration, as well as the other lawyers in the program,” she says. “We had a really good cohort.”

Several years on from her graduation, Douek gets constant reminders of her time on the Health Law LLM: on her desk as she speaks is the medical malpractice textbook by Gerald Robertson, the professor she collaborated with on her major research paper. In addition, Douek now works frequently with two of her former instructors in their roles as general counsel for the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which supports doctors facing medico-legal issues.   

According to Douek, her experience is proof to young lawyers that an Osgoode LLM can help them change the direction of their career.

“It demonstrates that you are willing to put time and money into something that you are passionate about,” she says. “Beyond that, you’re also getting into a lot more detail than you would ever be able to in a single law school course and by the end of the program, you have a really full appreciation of the area.”

Wondering if the Professional LLM is right for you? Get information on course requirements, application dates, tuition and more!