Hamline News

Connecting Legal Studies to Health Care: Brian Tolkkinen MSL ’21

Photo of Brian Tolkkinen

Brian Tolkkinen MSL ’21 defines himself as the type of person who always needs to be learning. Hamline University’s Master in the Study of Law filled that need—and the needs of his company.

After working with technology for more than 20 years, Tolkkinen felt a call to grow his career and earn a master’s degree. Based on good reviews from peers and a personal connection to Hamline’s mission statement, he initially looked into the MBA. But when he discovered the MSL, he thought, “This is it.”

Tolkkinen works as the director of information security at a health care software company. In an industry with such a complex compliance system, it’s crucial to understand the law.

Gaining this knowledge made Tolkkinen more self-reliant in his work. Through the program, he developed his skills in legal research and writing, which he said has made it easier to communicate with the compliance officers at his company.

“I’m not an attorney, but I can summarize a compliance issue and even do a little bit of preliminary legal research and write it up in a way an attorney can understand. It makes the whole process smoother, less costly,” he said.

The MSL program has also helped Tolkkinen find new connections within his work, enabling him to help teams within his company work more closely together—for example, bridging the gap between health care legal compliance related to information security and compliance related to client privacy.

“I’m very interested in crossing those boundaries,” he said. “There’s a need in many organizations for people who can span those boundaries. I think it’s a potential niche that will be a huge value for my organization.”

Throughout his studies, Tolkkinen found motivation and inspiration from instructors. The variety of coursework and teaching styles kept things interesting, he said. And support from faculty members helped him through the challenges of earning a master’s degree while working and managing family obligations during the pandemic.

“The learning has given me new perspectives as a thought leader,” he said. “If [the MSL] is something you’re interested in, it’s going to be invigorating, with new ideas that you can take to your work.”

Learn more about Hamline’s Master in the Study of Law at hamline.edu/cla/master-degree-study-law.

Written by Anne Kopas
June 10, 2021