Matthew J.B. Lawrence

Matthew J.B. Lawrence

Assistant Professor of Law
Assistant Professor, Penn State College of Medicine

Phone: 717-241-3537
SSRN Profile
Selected Works

J.D., New York University School of Law
B.A., Brown University

Lawrence on Teaching

My passion for the Constitution led me to pursue a career in law, and I entered law school with the singular goal of practicing constitutional law. My professors taught me that subject, as I expected, but they also opened my eyes to areas of the law I barely knew existed. And they showed me that those other areas of the law—for me health law, administrative law, and civil procedure—were every bit as interesting and important as the subject that led me to law school in the first place.

In my career, I have been fortunate to realize my long-held dream of practicing constitutional law. It has been a richly rewarding experience to litigate free speech, due process, equal protection, and religious freedom cases in courts all across the country. But I have also discovered that I’m even more passionate about subjects I barely knew existed when I decided to go to law school, particularly health care and administrative law. I have chosen to focus my practice and scholarship on these more recent passions.

As a teacher, it is of course important to me to help my students pursue the passions they brought with them to law school. But I feel it is just as important to give my students the chance to discover new passions, or new ways to apply their passions, by sharing my own. By introducing students to new legal problems, causes, and fields of study, I aspire to help each student find his or her maximally-rewarding career path.

Lawrence on Scholarship

As a law clerk for the Honorable Douglas H. Ginsburg on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Management & Budget, I have seen first-hand the role good legal scholarship can play in improving policy and legal decision-making. Judges, practicing attorneys, and policymakers rarely have the time to dive as deeply into an issue as they would like or to consider issues as fully. Even more importantly, the institutional pressures of day-to-day practice tend to favor a focus on immediate economic consequences to well-represented entities, so less-direct impacts on less-well-represented entities can easily be (and often are) overlooked. Legal scholarship can address both these gaps. To me, the best scholarship attacks a legal problem with a breadth and depth unattainable in everyday practice, in a way that promotes inclusion and generates new ideas. And in so doing it builds on and expands our knowledge about how the law works.

Lawrence on Service

One of the unique and rewarding qualities of the legal profession is the commitment that many senior lawyers, including judges, partners, and professors, display to nurturing those whose legal careers are just beginning. I have had the benefit of a number of mentors who have given freely of their time and energy to help me grow as a lawyer and professional. Their efforts have shaped my career. I feel an obligation to pay all that time and energy forward—first, by applying myself to bettering the lives of my neighbors, and second, by helping to guide those whose legal careers are just beginning.

Lawrence on Community

I have always been family-oriented, and I have found that I thrive professionally when I am part of a close-knit community. That’s one of the things I love about Dickinson Law. The culture of community here between and among faculty, staff, students, and alums is unmistakable and something that sets Dickinson Law apart as an institution.

Lawrence's Engagement with the Profession

At the Department of Justice it was my job to defend federal policies and programs challenged in federal district court, usually as lead attorney for the United States. I handled all aspects of many high-profile matters in federal courts across the country, including appeals and nationwide injunctions, and came to focus my practice on Medicare and Affordable Care Act litigation. I remain a litigator at heart, so it is important to me to remain engaged on the cutting edge of legal developments in healthcare. One way I do that is by bringing pending cases into the classroom. For example, I knew I would be teaching a course on the Affordable Care Act at Harvard Law School the semester the Supreme Court was to hear oral argument in the landmark case King v. Burwell. I structured the syllabus and guest speakers around the argument date so that students could be experts in a headline-grabbing legal issue as it developed in real time.

Lawrence's Publications

Disappropriation, 120 COLUM. L. REV. ___ (forthcoming 2020).

Essay, Against the ‘Safety Net’, 72 FLA. L. REV. ___ (forthcoming 2020).

Health Insurance’s Social Consequences Problem and How to Solve It, 13 HARV. L. & POL’Y REV. ___ (forthcoming 2019).

Deputizing Family: Loved Ones as a Regulatory Tool in the ‘Drug War’ and Beyond, 11 NORTHEASTERN L. REV. 195 (2019).

Regulatory Pathways to Promote Treatment for Substance Use Disorder or Other Under-Treated Conditions Using Risk Adjustment, 46 J. L. MED. & ETHICS 935 (2018) (peer reviewed). 

“Introduction to Part III: Behavioral Economics and the Problem of Healthcare Costs,” in Behavioral Economics, Law, and Health Policy (I. Glenn Cohen et al. eds., 2016).

“Procedural Triage,” 84 Fordham L. Rev. (2015).

“Mandatory Process, 90 Ind. L. J. (2015).

“Courts Should Apply a Relatively More Stringent Pleading Threshold to Class Actions,” 81 U. Cin. L. Rev. 1225 (2013).

“The Jurisdiction of the D.C. Circuit,” 23 Cornell J. of L. & Pub. Pol’y 131 (2013) (with Eric M. Fraser; David K. Kessler; & Stephen A. Calhoun).

“Note, In Search of an Enforceable Medical Malpractice Exculpatory Agreement: Introducing Confidential Contracts as a Solution to the Doctor-Patient Relationship Problem," 83 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 850 (2009).