Law professor recognized for leadership in education

January 03, 2024

Jennifer Herbst smiles in a black shirt for a headshot.

Jennifer Herbst, professor of law and medical sciences, has recently been appointed the Carmen Tortora Professor of Law at Quinnipiac for her impact on the academic community.

The family of the longtime board of trustees member and honorary doctor of law, Carmen Tortora, Sr., instituted this three-year professorship in his name. A major aspect of Tortora’s research focused on daily care and support for those who are navigating medical complexity. His work inspires Herbst and she expressed her utmost respect and appreciation for carrying his name for the next three years at Quinnipiac.

She was shocked at the announcement and looks forward to diving into her own interests and field of study through this coveted privilege.

“Given my work in educating future lawyers and physicians, as well as my work on hospital ethics committees, I am both fascinated and concerned with how we are using standards created primarily in the context of property and wealth for decisions about how to care for people unable to care for themselves,” said Herbst. “I hope my work will provide a bit more context and nuance to our understanding of the roles of professionals and family caregivers in shared decision making on behalf of incapacitated patients.”

Herbst is currently exploring the history of ethical and legal standards professionals use to evaluate healthcare decisions made on behalf of patients. This subject holds significant importance for this professor as she has dedicated much time and effort to studying this area of expertise.

Her career began by practicing law at a defense firm representing medical institutions, coaching a mock trial team and teaching at other universities. Herbst’s journey has led to a fruitful profession at Quinnipiac and the recent award.

“Since landing at the law and medical schools, I have been fortunate to further develop my thinking and research through service on several ethics committees, a public health law teaching fellowship funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and time at the University of Ottawa in Canada as a Fulbright research chair in health law, policy and ethics,” said Herbst. “I am looking forward to attending Duke Divinity School next year during my sabbatical as part of their theology and healthcare program.”

Her admiration for both the Quinnipiac University's School of Law and Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine is seen through accomplishments in her craft and devotion to each school.

“There are very few other places in the country or world where it is as easy and encouraged for health lawyers and ethicists to work with the full range of professionals who comprise our healthcare workforce,” said Herbst.

She will follow in the footsteps of many Carmen Tortora Professors of Law before her as she embarks on this professorship for the next few years.

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