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New book to offer straightforward legal advice for medical professionals

Jan Dennis, Business & Law Editor
217-333-0568; jdennis@illinois.edu

Michael Murray
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Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Law professor Michael Murray is a co-author of a self-help book that coaches doctors, dentists and other health-care professionals on a host of office-related issues that never came up in medical school.

10/23/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Doctors save lives, but often don’t have a prescription for legal woes that can plague their businesses and even slice into the bottom line, a University of Illinois professor says.

Law professor Michael Murray is a co-author of a self-help book that will be released next year, coaching doctors, dentists and other health-care professionals on a host of office-related issues that never came up during long years in medical school.

“They can be fantastic doctors and life-changing surgeons, but they didn’t develop the skills to be the manager of a small business that has inventory, that has employees, that has taxes to pay,” Murray said.

The book, “The Law In Plain English® For Health Care Professionals,” will cover insurance, tax and employment law, along with legal options for setting up medical practices that also shield personal assets, Murray said.

Murray says the tips could help health-care professionals avoid potential legal problems, run their offices more efficiently and even boost profits.

“It will not be a 10,000 page treatise that will try to educate them on everything,” Murray said. “Instead, it will cover the basics, such as the difference between employees and independent contractors. There are a lot of problems with the law that you could get into, but we’re going to talk about the ones you’re most likely to run into.

“Another primary goal of the book is to give health-care professionals the vocabulary to be able to talk more efficiently and effectively with their lawyer or accountant, saving everyone a lot of time and themselves a lot of money,” Murray said.

The book also will touch on malpractice, though Murray suspects it’s the one area of law where medical professionals are knowledgeable because of the potentially career-threatening ramifications.

“So I’ll give some real-life scenarios because you can tell people what the law says, but I can explain it better using examples written in plain English,” Murray said.

Most doctors are less informed about other legal issues, he said, though many still likely try to muddle through on their own when setting up employee retirement plans or negotiating rental or insurance contracts for offices and equipment.

“I have a suspicion that doctors tend to have a very high opinion of their ability to handle legal and business dealings because they’re trained to handle tough, complicated medical situations,” Murray said. “But legal situations are a different animal. If you don’t understand them, you’re going barehanded into a gunfight.”

The book, which will be published next spring by Sourcebooks/Sphinx, is part of a series launched about 30 years ago by lawyer and former law professor Leonard Duboff that also includes editions for photographers, and galleries and small business owners.

Murray will update and revise an edition targeting health-care professionals that DuBoff first published in 1992, but has been out of print for about five years.

Editor’s note: To contact Michael Murray, call 217-333-0930 or e-mail murraymd@law.uiuc.edu.