ABA Health eSource
 August 2008 Volume 4 Number 12

Chair's Column
by Andrew J. Demetriou, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Andrew J. DemetriouI have decided that writing a valedictory Chair's Column is no fun at all. This is not for lack of material--Lord knows this has been a busy year--but because it poses the unique challenge of composing prose that is reflective, grateful, and forward-looking without sounding incredibly trite, if not downright sappy. After all, I need to speak about the accomplishments of people who are more than just colleagues, but in many ways a family within the Section. At the severe risk of stinging rebuke from the small cadre of critical readers of these tracts, here goes.

My guiding objective this year was to preside over an increasingly mature and sophisticated Section, building on the momentum created by the outstanding Chairs who preceded me, relying on the talented leadership corps and staff we have been fortunate to recruit and retain over the last few years and mostly staying out of the way as the working Committees, Task Forces and Interest Groups executed their missions. In this, I have not been entirely successful, but I can say without reservation that the Section has enjoyed an outstanding year. This is almost entirely due to the efforts of a very great number of you who have contributed in ways large and small to advancing our core values--programs, publications, member benefits and services and public service. Space will not permit me to acknowledge the hundreds of individuals who should be recognized for their achievements, but I want you to know that my acknowledgement of a few exceptional contributors should be read to include the many who are represented by, and supported the work of, these leaders.

My officers, Vickie Yates Brown, David Hilgers, Linda Baumann, David Douglass, Paul DeMuro, Howard Wall and Greg Pemberton have been extremely supportive and frequently helped me avoid ditches and pitfalls this year, while preserving the illusion that I was in charge of things. Each of them has undertaken important Section projects, ranging from strategic planning and public service efforts to furthering our relationships with the government and other healthcare organizations. Each has shown considerable initiative and all have justified the confidence and trust that the Section has reposed in them. It has been my great pleasure to serve with them and to bask in the reflection of the glow their efforts have created.

I am also grateful to the Governing Council, David Johnson, Alexandria Hien McCombs, Daniel Cody, Shelley Hubner, Michael E. Clark, Kathleen Scully-Hayes and Conrad Meyer. The Greek word symvoulos can be interpreted as both "to counsel" and "a Council" and these individuals have personified both meanings of this venerable word. Our Council Liaisons, Paul Herrington and Katie Rose Fink, have acquitted themselves admirably and added liveliness to our deliberations (alright, it has mostly been Katie Rose adding the liveliness). Paul is our living link to the entirety of the Section's history, and his perspective is one of the most valuable resources any Chair can have. I am pleased that he has been reappointed as our Board of Governors liaison for next year, so that Vickie can benefit from his wisdom and judgment.

Much of the real heavy lifting within the Section is carried on through our Divisions and our success is attributable to the hard work of my great friends Bill Horton, who Chaired our Programs Executive Committee, Michael E. Clark, who Chaired our Publications Executive Committee, and Hal Katz, who ably served as Chair of our Interest Group Leadership Team. Together with their fine Committee and Subcommittee members these leaders have repeatedly delivered for the membership and are deserving of all the praise I can give them. Each of our Divisions has achieved impressive gains in fulfilling its mission of service to our members.

Jill Peña, Sena Leach, Adam Bielawski and Abbey Palagi are a Dream Team as our professional staff. No Chair could ask for better support. Somehow, in spite of being surrounded by demanding egos and fussy lawyers they manage to maintain their composure, and take care of every last detail with grace, humility and of course excellence. Those of us who have worked closely with them over the years know how spoiled we have been to be able to call on them. In truth, they could run the whole show better without any of us alleged leaders involved, but thankfully, ABA policy prohibits that! In addition, Marla Durben Hirsch, who has diligently worked on the publication of the excellent issues of the Health Lawyer this year (and fixed my prose in these columns) is deserving of kudos for a job well done.

I am indebted to my Partners at Fulbright & Jaworski, who have provided significant support during my tenure as Chair, and probably have vowed never again to find themselves in the position of having two individuals Chair an ABA Section within four years. In particular my dear friend and Partner Tony Patterson has been an enormous help and inspiration to me and I am thrilled that he will be representing the Section in the House of Delegates starting next year.

Finally, I need to acknowledge the members of my family, who have tolerated an absent father and husband far too often over the last couple of years. Evelyn has been my rock in these times, in addition to serving as a gracious host and fitting partner at those meetings she has been able to attend. Kate and Nicole's entire lives are measured by my years of service to the Section, as I became an Interest Group Chair the year they were born. Recently they have come to enjoy attending EMI and Annual Meetings, even though it means acquiring nicknames like Athena and Hera, or Awkward Disaster and Awkward Nightmare. I think the nice hotel rooms with room service and flat screen televisions, in places like Honolulu and San Francisco, may have something to do with their tolerance for ABA meetings.

One of my great pleasures as Chair has been the interaction with other leaders of the ABA, such as Deborah Enix-Ross, Chair of the Section Officers Conference, and my peers like Jeff Golden of International Law, Stanley Blend of Tax, Robyn Shapiro of Individual Rights and Charlie McCallum of Business Law. Knowing them has made many ABA events more pleasant and has been helpful on cooperative projects and programs. I hope that Vickie will find the relationships with her fellow Chairs to be similarly fruitful. It has also been great working with Pamela Roberts of the Commission on Women in the Profession on our Breast Cancer Task Force Project. An important goal for our Section must always be greater engagement with other parts of the ABA and I am gratified that we made some progress on that front this year.

To conclude, I would like to offer a few words about the recent past and the near future. I was honored to be invited as a delegate to the inaugural World Justice Forum, in Vienna, Austria this past month. The Forum was an offshoot of the World Justice Project sponsored by ABA President William Neukom. I was not sure what to expect from this meeting, but was pleasantly surprised to be among 460 delegates from 95 countries, most of whom were not practicing lawyers. Bill Neukom deserves enormous credit for his vision in pulling this meeting together (and no, I am not lobbying for an appointment), it was an extraordinary event.

Tony Patterson and I participated in meetings of the Public Health and Medicine Committee, which included leading physicians, senior public health officials from four countries, representatives of relief organizations like Medicins San Frontieres and officials with the World Health Organization. We had serious discussions about ways in which the international community can raise the visibility of health issues that deny hundreds of millions of people basic necessities such as clean water, simple hygienic practices and medicines that are readily available in the first and second worlds. We also proposed a project for the development of model public health laws that could be introduced by the UN or the WHO in nations that are undergoing reconstruction or development and which have no heritage of laws in this area. I am hopeful that the World Justice Project will adopt these proposals for further work and that our Section can continue its involvement in these projects.

As this column is written, several of us are busily preparing for the Annual Meeting in New York. I am very excited about a Presidential Showcase Program that we are presenting on Thursday, August 7, concerning issues of access to healthcare for all Americans. The panel will feature Sara Collins from the Commonwealth Fund and Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the National Institutes of Health. If it is all possible for you to attend this session, I think you will find it a rewarding experience. Our August Council and Annual Business Meetings will be held on Saturday, August 9. The Business Meeting, which will convene at 11:30 am, is open to all members of the Section, and will feature the election of new officers, based on the slate proposed by the Section Nominating Committee. In addition, our Section is the sponsor of two Recommendations before the House of Delegates--116A, which encourages changes in the law to foster expedited partner therapy as a public health measure to combat certain communicable diseases and 116B, which encourages laws permitting the expansion of telemedicine. I would like to thank Montrece Ransom of the Centers for Disease Control and David Johnson of our Section Council for their work in spearheading these proposals. I hope that both will be approved by the House as official ABA policy, permitting us to advocate for action on these measures by federal and state authorities.

It has been a rare privilege to serve as your Chair, and I wish Vickie every success in the forthcoming year.

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