Joe Baratta was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. He completed his undergrad degree at the University of Iowa where he studied Political Science and then returned to Chicago for Law School. He has had the opportunity to work for a number of litigation law firms during law school, most recently with SmithAmundsen LLC, and Justice Robert Gordon who sits on the Illinois Appellate Court. Joe says that these experiences really solidified his focus toward litigation based work. In doing his own research, in conjunction with speaking to attorneys he had worked with previously, he found health law to be an area he might want to pursue. He then wrote onto the Journal for Health Care Law and joined the Jaharis Health Law Institute in his 2L year to gain some exposure. He ultimately decided to take the necessary courses to get his health law certificate, which he will earn upon his graduation in May.
Joe says that his favorite class was Litigation Lab with Professor Clark. What drew him to the class was that it is a professional skills course where students have the opportunity to interact with practicing attorneys almost every class. For some classes, the students act as a mock jury; in others, the students have the opportunity to examine a witness or present an oral argument. He says the variety was part of what made the class fun to go to. Joe emphasized that this is a great class for students who are interested in health law litigation, because there were often a number of medical malpractice cases to work through. He says it was valuable to see how practitioners present cases that have complex medical terms to lay people.
When asked how DePaul has helped him prepare for practice in Health Law, Joe highlighted the importance of obtaining a specialized health law certificate. The certificate is just one more way students can emphasize their dedication to health law. Joe also points to the large variety of practical skills courses that he has taken which ultimately better prepare him for a career focused on litigation. He says the pretrial writing courses and having to do oral presentations in class have given him confidence for when he has to do it for real one day.
Joe’s advice to rising 1L’s and 2L’s is that grades are important and it is worth putting in the time to doing well. Additionally, Joe recommends trying to take advantage of a field placement opportunity while in school. These placements provide students with real work experience while getting course credit and is a great way to make contacts in the legal community.
After graduation, Joe plans on taking time off from work in the summer to study for the bar full time until late July. After the bar? Joe plans on taking his “bar trip” somewhere in the Caribbean where he can scuba dive. Through his work though his time in law school, Joe is planning on seeking a litigation position, ideally working in a health law or medical malpractice group.
We at E-Pulse wish Joe the very best as he prepares for the bar this summer and enters into the legal field!