Nurse aims for career in health care law field

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Andrew Foley previously worked in the field of nursing, drawn by his interest in anatomy, physiology, and biology.

“However, what truly motivated me, both in my time as a student, and as a practicing registered nurse, was the job satisfaction—leaving the hospital after each shift knowing that I truly made a difference in a handful of patients’ lives that day—or sometimes night,” he says.

Foley, who has worked for St. Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor and Oakland, as well as a travel nurse at Flint Hurley, McLaren Port Huron, and Tacoma General in Tacoma, WA, worked as a nurse for the Detroit Medical Center — Harper University and Detroit Receiving Hospitals— as well as McLaren Port Huron, during the pandemic. He continues to work part-time in both DMC and Trinity Health float pools while attending law school.

“COVID was terrible—I remember like it was yesterday,” he says. “I received an e-mail from DMC briefing us about the onset of COVID and asking for extra help at Harper University Hospital. At the time it felt like no one truly understood the magnitude and social effects the pandemic would ultimately yield.

“Before long I found myself working four jobs, including one in Michigan’s ‘Thumb’ area. Hospital policies were constantly changing in response to the latest studies and CDC recommendations, PPE supplies became less and less available to staff. The hardest part was knowing that, despite my best efforts, some patients would ultimately succumb to this new virus.”

Now a 2L student at Detroit Mercy Law—who will add a fourth year after being accepted into the dual JD/MBA program—Foley grew up surrounded by attorneys. His parents John and Paula Foley, met while attending Detroit College of Law in the early ‘80s; and his father enjoyed a 40-year career as a practicing attorney in Michigan. During the early part of his career, John Foley primarily focused on labor law and personal injury (TBI), later transitioning into family law that his firm still focuses on today.

“My mother—to the benefit of the entire family—chose to stay at home and raise my brothers and me,” Foley says.

Foley’s eldest brother John Paul, an alumnus of Notre Dame Law, was a Navy JAG for many years, and now works for the Department of Justice in the Antitrust Division, while continuing as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserves. Foley’s other brother, Patrick, a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, practices bankruptcy and family law as the managing partner at his father’s firm. And most of Foley’s aunts and uncles are attorneys or expert medical witnesses.  

“Over the years, as I listened to family members discuss the practice of the law, I became fascinated with their perspective of the world at-large,” Foley says. “This led to me picking up a copy of an LSAT prep book, which in turn further stoked my interest in attending law school.

“Finally, the biggest epiphany occurred during COVID, at which point in time I was working at three different local area hospitals. Seeing and hearing the debates surrounding the stay-at-home orders, in combination with the rapidly changing hospital policies made me realize that while I was affecting change on a small scale, it would be possible for me to take my clinical experience in combination with a JD/MBA, and one day effectuate change on a macro scale via health care policy.”

Detroit has always played a large role in Foley’s life; a Detroit native, he earned his undergrad degree in nursing from the University of Detroit Mercy, remaining a UDM Titan for law school.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the history of the city and its cultural impact on the world,” he says. “I believe what I enjoy most about the University is its involvement with the city, and its strong sense of inclusion. When I contacted the University, regarding potential enrollment and admission, the admissions staff called me every week or so to check in and see how I was doing— it felt like they truly cared about my well-being, as if I was more than just a number.”

Foley’s legal focus has always been aimed at the intersection of medicine and the law—health care law.

“Medical malpractice has always been the most obvious application of my background, and one that I am certainly interested in—however, I’m also interested in fraud and abuse as well as healthcare policy,” he says. “The goal for my career is to be the most effective and knowledgeable attorney I can be—in whatever practice area I ultimately choose.”  

This past summer Foley interned for Judge Julie McDonald in the Oakland County family law division; and this semester began clerking at Ottenwess Law in downtown Detroit, a full-service general litigation, healthcare law, and transactional firm. Foley is currently attending in-person law school classes, and a few online MBA courses.

“Honestly, the first year of law school, being entirely virtual, was tough as I hadn’t been in academia for a while as a result of my nursing career,” he says. “I’m a bit of an extrovert so having the ability to finally connect with my peers makes the experience much more fulfilling.”

Foley, who is actively involved in the Irish Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Equity, enjoys golfing in his spare time, especially on golf courses he hasn’t previously played. He also enjoys working out, swimming, and mixed martial arts; concerts; trying new restaurants; spending time with friends and family; reading; and further learning about business, real estate, and investment.

Born in a Detroit, Foley was raised in Dearborn until age 13, when his family moved to the Metro Detroit suburb of Northville. After calling Detroit home for the last five years, he recently sold his home within Detroit’s historical Boston Edison District and has temporarily relocated back to Northville.

“To me, Detroit is a city with such a storied history—it’s a city unlike any other,” he says. “Every time I find myself in Detroit, I get goose bumps thinking about the city’s past and what may lie ahead for the city.

“I desperately want to be a part of that change, and hope to one day contribute what I can in an effort towards a positive long-lasting change.”


 

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