February 01, 2018

EMI, or How I Met the Section

Hilary H. Young, Joy & Young, L.L.P., Austin, TX

The Health Law Section’s flagship conference, Emerging Issues in Health Care Law, is around the corner and is one of my favorite annual events.  This year will be the Section’s 19th and my 15th EMI.  In looking forward to our gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona, I also look back.  What do I love about EMI and being a member of the ABA Health Law Section?  Let me count the ways….

I returned to law school after a 10-year hiatus.  My first career out of college was teaching high school Latin to middle and upper school students in private schools.  I coached sports teams, helped students put on plays, and even conducted a high school choir one year (an incredibly humbling experience—it was much harder than it looked).  I loved most of it (except grading papers on Sunday nights), and my kids taught me as much or more than I taught them.  They taught me to own when I did not know an answer, to admit a mistake, and to celebrate others’ achievements.  I think back on those years and remember the people: supportive administrators and mentors, colleagues and students; the “a-ha” moments and the enthusiasm; and the bumps in the road that gave us all opportunities to grow.

Eight years into it and I got married and moved to a new city that offered no jobs teaching Latin.  My next stint was as an assistant property manager/legal secretary to a real estate lawyer.  He was a terrific boss.  I would be typing a detailed, lengthy commercial real estate lease.  He would offer to bring me coffee when he got a cup, saying, “You should keep doing what you do best [type], and I’ll do what I do best [make coffee].”  He taught me the value of a forms file and of learning what other people could teach.  He taught me to listen to our tenants.  He made us all laugh.  He introduced me to cooking a turkey in a turkey bag.  And he encouraged me to go to law school, which I had always sworn I would never do.

Law school was intellectually stimulating and full of bright and interesting people.  I do not recall whether I joined the ABA as a student, but my membership card indicates that I have been a member since the year I graduated and became a licensed lawyer.  As I began my career in Health Law, I added membership in what was then the Forum on Health Law before it grew into the Health Law Section.  And for the next 10 years my involvement was limited to paying my dues and reading the ABA Journal as I learned my practice area and developed my career.

Then Tom Dowdell, a colleague and good friend from my years at Fulbright & Jaworski, urged me to come to EMI in Phoenix.  It was 2002.  Tom was a leader of the Payment and Reimbursement Interest Group and was organizing the IG’s lunch program.  He asked me to participate on a panel and talk about Medicaid reform in Texas.  During the luncheon, David Johnson came through to solicit help with writing comments on recently proposed changes to the EMTALA rules.  Medicaid reform was not really my sweet spot, but EMTALA was, and I immediately raised my hand to help.  I have been involved in the Health Law Section and have attended all but two EMIs since then.

We return to Arizona again this year.  The program is informative and interesting, as always.  I am excited to see old friends, connect and catch up.  I look forward to meeting new attendees and welcoming them into the fold.  As you can probably tell by now, what interests me is traveling my career path with wonderful clients and colleagues, solving problems and helping one another be better lawyers and better people.  (We laugh a lot, too).  My guess is that, if you think back, you will likely remember someone who invited and encouraged you to get involved in the ABA and in the Section, and maybe even to come to EMI.  This year’s conference is February 21-24, 2018.  If you are reading this before the conference, come to Scottsdale and bring a friend.  If you are reading this after that, put March 13-16, 2019 on your calendar now and join us to celebrate EMI’s 20th anniversary in Orlando, Florida.