Chair's Column: Public Service
by Andrew J. Demetriou, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Los Angeles, CA
Happy New Year! I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday season filled with friends, family and good times. This month I want to report on some activities of your Section that will benefit lawyers and the general public outside the Section. In addition to services to our members, the Section has historically undertaken public service initiatives, consistent with the overall goals of the ABA to provide access to legal services to all persons, to increase public understanding of the law and to preserve and enhance the ideals of the legal profession and its dedication to public service. In 2001, the Section adopted its first strategy on pro bono activities, and we set out aims as providing public service in a way that best uses the resources, expertise and reach of our membership. This means that we will address larger issues that affect lawyers and clients throughout the country. We are presently engaged in some very exciting endeavors and I would like to take a few paragraphs to better acquaint you with this important aspect of our Section's work.
I am pleased to announce that we have just concluded an understanding with the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession under which our Section will assume primary responsibility for the efforts of the Breast Cancer Advocacy Task Force, a project initiated by the Commission in 2000 to train lawyers to become effective advocates and counselors for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The Task Force has made wonderful progress in hosting workshops around the country, involving very able teaching faculty. They have developed excellent materials and the program has almost progressed to the stage where the Task Force can distribute do-it-yourself kits to public interest groups and local bar associations that wish to sponsor advocacy workshops. Our Section has been involved with the Task Force for some time now, under the leadership of our Section Secretary, Linda Bauman, who has worked closely with me and Jill Peña to establish a framework for deeper Section involvement. At this time, the Task Force will formally become a Section project, and Linda will serve as its new Chair. We will continue to maintain a strong connection with the Commission and look forward to great achievements from this Task Force in the future.
Last year, we formed a special Task Force on Healthcare Liability Issues, to address issues of public policy concerning liability of healthcare providers and institutions. Prior to formation of the Task Force, the Section had designated a liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability and has tried to work with the Standing Committee on matters such as Recommendations and Reports to the House of Delegates. After careful consideration, our Council determined that the Section needed to form its own working group to address these issues and present recommendations to the Council on policy questions and to produce programs and scholarship for the benefit of our members and the public. The Task Force, under the leadership of Council Member David Johnson, includes academic and government representatives in addition to private practitioners. At present the group is working on a Recommendation and Report to the ABA House of Delegates concerning telemedicine licensure as well as continuing to address the questions raised by so-called "I'm Sorry" legislation, which would provide legal protections for legitimate expressions of sympathy by healthcare providers. Over time, I believe that the Task Force will become an important resource within the ABA for thoughtful and evenhanded analysis of healthcare liability issues.
Finally, as I have previously mentioned, we are presently organizing a Task Force on Access to Healthcare, which will address issues of providing healthcare coverage to all Americans. A number of individuals have volunteered to serve on this important Task Force and we are obtaining support from other ABA Sections and organizations. We have been granted a Presidential Showcase Program for the Annual Meeting in New York, which will feature a presentation on healthcare issues in the current election year. I envision that the Access Task Force will serve as a thought an opinion leader on the legal aspects of healthcare coverage, access and financing proposals and will incorporate a wide variety of perspectives.
I hope that you agree that these projects are worthy of our efforts and would be pleased to involve you in these or other public service initiatives of the Section.
This current issue of the eSource features articles provided by our Business and Transactions Interest Group concerning the pitfalls of unwinding deals and the status of the Stark III "Stand in the Shoes" proposals for academic medical centers and integrated delivery systems. I hope you find these articles useful and encourage you to contact the leadership of the Interest Group if you have questions or wish to become involve with its projects.