In the medical profession, the idea of lawyers spawns a litany of thoughts – few of them good. During my medical training, I took a slight detour and attended law school. When I emerged from both programs with a name badge announcing “Layne Bettini, M.D., J.D.,” the jokes came hard and fast (“Q: How many lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Three – one to climb the ladder, one to shake it, and one to sue the ladder company.”).

Jokes aside, my legal education instilled in me an appreciation for the intersection between the law and medicine. We, as physicians, often lament the list of tasks in our profession triggered by the law – the arduous notes, the forms, the malpractice insurance. But the law has generated concepts that have real-world importance in both...

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