If you are a law firm seeking an attorney for overflow work or a referral for health care law, general corporate, and alternative medicine legal issues, then consider.

Consider Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen. Our firm offers expertise in health law, with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies, as well as general business law. Together with Alan Dumoff, JD, a health care attorney who serves Of Counsel to the law office, Michael H. Cohen & Dumoff collectively have over 30 years of experience in complementary and alternative medicine legal issues.

Their professional relationship goes back to at least 1994 or 1995, when they met at what was billed as the first international congress on alternative medicine (which it probably was, for the most part, at least in modern times; we have to include conferences on Tibetan medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Japanese medicine, herbal medicine, and other modalities which were held many centuries ago as the truly first international congresses on alternative and holistic health therapies). In any event, there are very few attorneys currently versed in both U.S. law, and internationally, in the legal climate pertaining to CAM therapies.

While this blog has an extensive about section, it is worth pointing out a few unique features of this team.

Dumoff has an MSW, with professional counseling experience, additional to his JD, and he also has experience opening and running an integrative health care center of his own. Cohen has extensive experience as a speaker on legal and business issues (including operational issues) in integrative medicine, bridging the conventional and CAM therapeutic worlds with insights into the regulatory environment. With a background that spans both legal and medical academe (including five years of full-time as a Harvard Medical School professor, in the faculty of general medicine), Cohen integrates his knowledge of the medical world and health care with both legal scholarship and practice. He authored one of the first authoritative law review articles on what he then called “A Fixed Star in Health Care Reform: The Emerging Paradigm of Holistic Health Care.”

Cases involving medical negligence relating to use of complementary and alternative medicine (or other negligence, such as chiropractic and acupuncture malpractice, or boundary violations involving massage therapy and energy healing) are coming to the fore, as are medical board discipline cases involving physicians (medical doctors and osteopathic doctors) who have used alternative therapies with their patients. So, too, are complex cases that involve the intersection of corporate practice of medicine, malpractice / negligence and informed consent violations, anti-kickback and conflict of interest / Stark issues, FDA and related food, drug and dietary supplement / medical device issues, questions around therapeutic claims, and issues surrounding licensure, credentialing and practitioner scope of practice. Increasingly, these cases are not just outliers reported in local newspapers, but situations involving delicate professional judgments that are coming to the attention of mainstream, national law firms.

In recognition of the development of this distinctive practice area, the national, continuing legal education department of West recently offered a course featuring Cohen and Dumoff, speaking on legal issues affecting integrative medicine and its ‘cousin,’ the medical spa. The law offices website notes:

Whether helping to develop your business structure and operations through regulatory compliance, strategizing to minimize malpractice exposure, developing credentialing and other institutional policies, evaluating and facilitating general risk management, developing tools for intellectual property protection, or providing other appropriate legal expertise, our firm aims to help businesses flourish and prosper, while more broadly serving the clinically responsible, ethically appropriate, and legally defensible integration of a full spectrum of therapies into health and human healing.

In addressing this niche, yet growing area of practice, Cohen and Dumoff pointed out that standards of care may be emerging and evolving but not yet generally accepted, and that physicians require some legal caution when operating in the gray zone. The seminar provided guidance to attorneys and law firms who would seek to represent medical practitioners and organizations, as many hospitals too are offering patients alternative therapies, and asking their legal counsel for appropriate advice. Participants in the seminar included lawyers representing physicians, nurses, complementary care providers, international corporations, law firms, health care educational institutions, clinics and wellness centers, medical spa consultants, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs. Government regulators were also represented.

Even though complementary medicine may seem like a small sliver of the health care market — especially when considered ‘alternative’ to conventional care — the reality is that spirituality, diet and nutrition, lifestyle, and whole medical systems (such as traditional oriental medicine, with its inclusion of acupuncture and herbal medicine) as well as the whole panoply of relaxation and mind-body therapies (from spa treatments to hypnosis to massage therapy) are increasingly represented in the preventative health care regimen of the ordinary health care consumer. It therefore pays to pay attention to the growing body of law that regulates holistic healing practices, and to develop expertise and seek appropriate consultation when considering not only litigation scenarios, but also business planning involving the development of new structures that integrate both the old and contemporary and the new, blending conventional medical care with the best of evidence-based therapies that are emerging or ancient and adapted to modern care.