‘Such a Different Outlook…’

Derek Tevyaw
Derek Tevyaw, MSL Student

Derek Tevyaw

Master of Studies in Law

Derek Tevyaw’s work requires an expertise in two fields – health insurance and the law.

As an appeals specialist supporting Rhode Island’s state health exchange, HealthSource RI (HSRI), he acts as liaison between the exchange’s legal team and Health Insurance Marketplace customers. Tevyaw researches administrative appeal hearings, prepares evidence within strict HIPAA guidelines, represents HSRI at the appeal hearings, and reviews and implements decisions issued by state appeals hearing officers.

Though not a lawyer himself, Tevyaw's job requires that he know the law well. And RWU Law’s Master of Studies in Law (MSL) program was precisely the tool he needed to take his work to the next level.

“I was looking to go back to school and get my master’s degree,” Tevyaw explains. “I was thinking about getting an MBA, but then I saw the MSL program and got really interested. My undergrad work was in criminal justice, and then I started with the health insurance – so I think I was trying to figure out a way to tie everything together."

"It’s great to just jump in like this. You start digging into the things you really want to know about so much more quickly. ... It's a game-changer."

He spoke to a couple of attorneys he worked with regularly, and “they thought it was a great idea; they even ended up writing my letters of recommendation.”   

Today, with only seven credits left to complete in the program, Tevyaw is neck-deep in Privacy Law and Public Administration courses. “I’ve been basing my classes around employment law and insurance law; I took workers compensation law, which I really enjoyed as well.”

His capstone directed research project is focused on a related topic. “I’m researching how to navigate cases involving drug overdoses; if there are ways we can disclose the information to relatives without getting the consent of the person who has overdosed.”

It’s a lot of work – but he’s got plenty of support. “Within the MSL program, we're very close-knit,” he explains. “We’re all in the same boat, you know? The regular law students are very helpful as well. The professors are very open, and always there to provide any extra help I might need in keeping up. And the program itself is very flexible.”

For example, when Tevyaw was unable to take a class due to his work schedule, the administration helped him arrange an alternative approach. “They’ve done everything they can to be helpful and accommodating, and I really appreciate it,” he says.

Most importantly, however, the program is delivering precisely the expertise it promised.

“It was a little intimidating at first, because I hadn’t taken any of those basic 1L classes,” Tevyaw explains. “But I loved it. I think it’s great to just jump in like that. Because you start digging into the things you really want to know about so much more quickly.”

Today, he recommends the MSL program to many professional acquaintances.

“It’s been a huge benefit,” Tevyaw says. “It’s given me such a different outlook on my work; on how to analyze things from a legal perspective. It’s been great as far as enhancing my research skills, and in how I’m able to interact and get work done with attorneys – I really understand how they’re looking at the case.

“It’s just a really different mindset. It’s a game changer.”