ABA Health eSource
 August 2007 Volume 3 Number 12

Chair's Column
by Paul R. DeMuro, Latham & Watkins LLP, San Francisco, CA

Paul R. DeMuroIt seems like only yesterday, but it was August, 2006, that I boarded a flight to Honolulu for the ABA Annual Meeting to accept the gavel from our then-Chair, Greg Pemberton. The conference room where we had our meetings was a delightful setting, including views of the water from at least two sides. I accepted the daunting task of chairing this most incredible Section.

I wanted to ensure that we continued to provide high quality services to our members, while working toward increasing our cultural diversity and our international footprint. I had the opportunity to discuss these initiatives with our interest group leadership at our meetings in Chicago, as our IG leaders flew from across the country to the ABA's home city. Your officers proceeded to attend the Section Officers Conference and many of us met with our counterparts of the Law and Medicine Committee of the International Bar Association, based in London.

A week later, I was back in Chicago for the Law and Medicine Committee as part of the International Bar Association Annual meetings, attending a dinner gathering of healthcare leaders across the world. I have to thank Domenic Crolla, the Chair of the Law and Medicine Committee for his hospitality.

My HLS Chair duties soon brought me to Washington, D.C. for our very successful Washington Summit, and our Fall Governing Council meetings. We had a diversity of speakers, including one from Canada. I have to thank Bonnie Brier, Tom Dowdell and Liz Fowler, the Chairs of that Summit for developing such an excellent program.

As I spent the year flying around on airplanes and going to meetings, I met in a number of cities with folks and organizations which wanted to do something with the HLS. I know that at least two trips to LA were of this order, and another is planned. And of course, there were countless telephone calls and emails.

The winter brought me to Orlando twice, once for our very popular Emerging Issues Conference chaired by Bill Horton and Hilary Young. Once again we had a diversity of speakers, and this time, one was even from Germany. We also had our winter Governing Council meeting in Orlando.

The Interest Groups and our publications continued to get stronger and our teleconference and programs better. I have to thank Hal Katz for leading our interest groups. He did a great job as I knew he would. And Michael Clark, who will be joining us on the Council this fall has done a fantastic job on publications. The program leadership chaired by Bill Horton has helped keep us on top in this area, and thank you. He and his team oversaw almost 30 teleconferences, three live programs, all top-notch. Bob "Baby Bob" Nelson has moved our membership efforts to new heights with "the Pheasant Hunt." Thank you Bob.

The Spring Council meetings which were held in Berlin, included an International Health Law Exchange, where none of the speakers were from the U.S., although Shelley Hubner, Bill Horton and Michael Clark were kind enough to serve as moderators and scriviners.

Our officers, Andy Demetriou, Vickie Yates Brown, Linda Baumann and David Hilgers have been consensus builders, working diligently to improve the HLS for all, and taking substantive responsibility in many areas. Linda chaired the Task Force on Breast Cancer, David was involved in significant CLE roles at the SOC, Vickie helped assemble our MPL Task Force, and Andy chaired a task force on Organization and Structure and represented us at the ABA day in Washington, D.C. and at the U.N.

This group of officers were most gracious in every respect. There were my co-pilots. They let me fly this plane by providing subtle constructive corrections without over correcting. Since it has been over 20 years since I have flown an airplane, it took me a while to realize how smoothly everything was going.

Our dedicated Governing Council was there participating, being involved and they were needed. Thank you Vicki Robinson, Bernadette Broccolo, David Douglass, Dan Cody, Shelley Hubner, and David Johnson. Our law student representative Katie Rose Fink and our Young Lawyers Division Representative Conrad Meyer, were true contributors. Katie even joined us in Berlin.

Our elders, (I meant delegates to the House of Delegates) Howard Wall and Greg Pemberton, represented our interests well and continued to help put the HLS on the map with the greater ABA. Our ABA Board of Governors' member and Senior Statesperson, Paul Herrington (also known as "Awkward Tuna Fish" to the younger set), was there for us every step of the way, trying to figure out what golf course he could get on.

We certainly had one of the best ABA Board of Governor Liaisons we have ever had, Rod Mathews, going to bat for us on a number of issues affecting us at the greater ABA. Thank you, Rod. I cannot leave out Tony Patterson, one of our past chairs, and the Chair of the SOC for the past two years. He never forgot where he came from (the HLS and Buffalo), working toward improving the image of the HLS and working on numerous opportunities available to our members. He served a key role with respect to the ABA Day in Washington which a number of our leadership attended. Thank you, Tony.

The countless hours our volunteers have spent on our behalf is most appreciated. It is impossible to thank everyone in this brief column and I am personally responsible for all omissions. Not only do our volunteers volunteer their time, they also do so at a financial expense. Many of our rank and file members do not know that for those meetings which reimbursement is available, and it's not every meeting, the reimbursement is limited. Either the members themselves, in many instances, pay the differences or their companies and firms do so.

I also want to thank our sponsors, Alvarez & Marsal; Arent Fox; Bureau of National Affairs (BNA); Brown McCarroll; Coppersmith Gordon Schermer Owens & Nelson PLC; Duane Morris LLP; Fulbright & Jaworski; Hall, Render, Killian, Health & Lyman; Haskell Slaughter; Young & Rediker, LLC; Healthcare Appraisers, Inc.; Healthcare Management Partners, LLC; Holland & Knight; Ice Miller; Joy & Young, LLP; Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, LLP; Latham & Watkins; Locke Liddell & Sapp, LLP; McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Navigant Consulting; Ober ½ Kaler; Powell Goldstein; Pricewaterhouse Coopers, LLP; Quarles & Brady; Reed Smith LLP; Schneider Regional Medical Center; Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP; Shook Hardy & Bacon, LLP; Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP; Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, for all programs, and otherwise. Without these folks, we could not have done what we have done these past years. Everyone should try to consider each of them when the opportunity arises. They stepped up, while others did not.

One of the highlights of the Bar Year for me was when the Greater ABA report came out which noted the strides the HLS has made in cultural diversity at the leadership level. A subsequent highlight was when the Board of Governors approved our plans to meet in Berlin. And yet another was the building of the relationships we are developing with the Medicine and the Law Committee of the IBA.

Our staff, Jill Peña, Sena Leach, Adam Bielawski, and Abbey Palagi have been there for me, the Governing Council and our members in all respects. Whether it is Jill reminding me of another thing I forgot, running interference on a matter, or drafting an agenda, she is there for all of us and is a true friend. Thank you, Jill.

Sena has made sure we were on task, our meetings were run with German precision and has been a welcomed addition to the HLS. Thank you Sena. Adam has reminded me constantly of when these columns are due, but in a most gentle manner. At first I thought I would never come up with enough ideas for columns, but I have found that on my 4.2 mile jogs, I can come up with more than enough ideas. (It must be no distractions from the phone or Blackberry.) Adam has taken the minutes at our meetings and when I would say don't take that down, he would immediately cease hitting at his laptop. Thank you, Adam. Numerous positive comments about Abbey handling the registration desk, and her friendliness have been noted. Thank you, Abbey.

I also have to thank my partners at Latham & Watkins LLP for their support, financially and otherwise in permitting me to be the Chair this past year, particularly Dan Settelmayer our Global Co-chair, who provided or worked toward ensuring that I received all the support I needed.

I have to thank my family for loaning me to the HLS this year. The long days at the office, in part attributable to the hours I spent on ABA activities during the work weeks, the weekends I was missed, and the lack of attention that I may have exhibited because of my ABA commitments, were most significant.

My wife, Susan, has been a most understanding person. My daughters, Melissa, Natalie and Alanna, have been very kind and understanding of when I might have had to miss a soccer game, a swimming and diving meet, a ballet observation, an alpine ski race, a field trip, a school event, or just time to hang out with their dear old dad. Thank you girls. You always will be the best.

The HLS has given me the opportunity of a lifetime. This kid of very humble means who was born the first son of an Army Sergeant will be eternally grateful for all of life's blessings that have been bestowed on him, particularly this one. I have had to pinch myself a number of times this year to make sure all of this was real, and it was not just a wizard behind a curtain. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and thank you to our members, all of you, for your calls, your emails and your support of me. I and your HLS leadership and staff always are here to serve you.

Finally, we come full circle, as the ABA Annual Meeting approaches in August in San Francisco, I ready to pass the baton to Andy Demetriou who has been the best Chair-Elect, a Chair could have and a dear friend. He was there when I needed him, offered helpful comments and suggestions, and let me do my thing, when at times I am sure he would have proceeded in a different manner. It is now time for me to step aside the way Greg Pemberton did so graciously a year ago. This journey ends in my town of San Francisco where it began by my stepping on a plane a year ago to Honolulu.

It is hard to believe how much we have accomplished as a section the last 11 years from our beginnings as the Health Law Forum. It also is remarkable that I am only the 10th Chair of this very young section. We will move forward most constructively with Andy taking the helm as I move into the position of Immediate Past Chair. Andy has some wonderful ideas for the HLS, tireless energy, and is a true leader.

Thank you … Thank you … Thank you … !!!

Thoughts, concerns, observations … Email Andy Demetriou, your new HLS Chair at ademetriou@fulbright.com.

My best regards and thanks for reading.

Paul R. DeMuro