College of Law > Academics > Centers, Institutes & Initiatives > Mary and Michael Jaharis Health Law Institute > e-Pulse Blog > Jaharis Health Law Institute Spotlight: Katy Straub, Alumna

Jaharis Health Law Institute Spotlight: Katy Straub, Alumna

​​​At age 5, Katy Straub knew she wanted to be a lawyer. At 16, while at her first job working at a nursing home, she realized she could take her interest in the legal system and put it to work caring for people, driving health-related legal policy, and working to establish a higher standard of patient care.

When the facility she was working at announced it would cease operations after serving as a home to many for decades, she witnessed little by little the facility being stripped of its assets and the direct impact imminent closure had on the residents, their families and staff. Ms. Straub knew she wanted to help in any way possible, to make sure health care worked for all parties.

Ms. Straub then volunteered to become an ombudsman in Wisconsin, assigned to a skilled nursing facility as an advocate to ensure a safe standard of living and to aid in resolving any issues between the facility and residents. There, she learned the art of active listening and presenting practicable solutions to issues affecting quality of care.

Prior to earning her J.D. at DePaul University College of Law in 2011, she completed her undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Political Science and International Studies. During her undergraduate studies, Ms. Straub deepened her experiences in law as an intern for a Wisconsin state senator, working with a lobbyist group in Wisconsin and even spending a summer as an assistant to a State Supreme Court Justice candidate, touring the state and experiencing the day-to-day happenings of a political campaign. Ms. Straub later interned for her county's corporation counsel office, dealing with mental commitments, involuntary termination of parental rights, and child support enforcement actions.

Ms. Straub chose to attend law school at DePaul because of its Health Law program. “The reputation of DePaul in the community, its Health Law Program, and the University’s focus on public service made my decision to go to law school there easy.” There she was active in bar association activities, Lawyers in the Classroom, the Health Law Institute and Phi Alpha Delta. Her work for the Special Education Advocacy Clinic helped to ensure students in Chicago Public Schools received proper care and education.

During law school, Ms. Straub was excited to experience hands-on legal work with the Medical and Health-Related Prosecutions Units at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Utilizing her Supreme Court Rule 711 license, and under the supervision of a licensed attorney, she represented the agency in proceedings to enforce licensing statutes and regulations governing health care professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, and nurses. From there, she moved into a clerk position for the Chief Administrative Law Judge at the same agency, drafting the Judge’s rulings and recommendations.

Outside of health-related issues, Ms. Straub enjoyed participating in the DePaul Pro Bono Donate-A-Days because it was a way to think outside the box and explore different areas of law whilst serving the community. While at DePaul, Ms. Straub also went on study abroad trips to focus on Financial Law in Grand Cayman and European Comparative Law in Prague, Czech Republic. “Seeing how legal systems in other countries operate has given me perspective in ways I never thought it could.”

After being sworn in, Ms. Straub worked as Assistant General Counsel for the IDFPR, where she provided legal counsel to professional boards and agency staff, analyzed proposed legislation affecting the professions IDFPR regulates, and assisted in drafting agency rules guiding Illinois’ newly passed medical cannabis policy.

Today, she continues her work to ensure a high standard of care as a Prosecutor for the IDFPR in health related cases involving substandard care, fraudulent billing, drug diversion, and patient abandonment. “By contributing to the quality of the health care system I am doing what I’ve always wanted; enforcing the law to ensure the safety of others.”

Ms. Straub enjoys mentoring law students through her guest lectures at DePaul and as law clerk coordinator at the IDFPR. She also volunteers through the Chicago Bar Association with the Wills for Heroes program, drafting wills and advanced directives for Chicago-area first responders.

Ms. Straub encourages law students to push themselves outside their comfort zone and try new things. “You will pick up new tools in your legal tool belt this way.” She also encourages students to network, volunteer and not be afraid to ask attorneys about their experiences. “If you do not receive a response right away, don’t be afraid to follow up.”

Ms. Straub suggests keeping a digital portfolio of projects ready so law students can send a resume or writing sample at any time, if an opportunity arises. “You prepare for your finals, so make sure you are also preparing for any opportunity that may come along. Keeping a portfolio is just one more step in being prepared,” Ms. Straub advises. “Preparation is key in law.”

Ms. Straub advises law students to choose a field that they have a real passion for, and then surround themselves with people they admire and respect. She states, “As a new attorney, you will no doubt have many questions. Law school will give you the tools you need to research and analyze problems. Internships will give you the experience you need to solve them correctly. Colleagues you respect, however, will inspire you to work hard toward achieving the goals you set for yourself. Law is a collaborative field, and you will pick up good habits from others.”

Kate Reynolds is currently a 2L at DePaul University College of Law. Ms. Reynolds completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois Springfield. Ms. Reynolds wishes to pursue a career in Health Law after graduating in May of 2017.​​​