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November 01, 2018

Guest Chair Column

Ramana Rameswaran, Arent Fox, LLP, Washington, DC and Michael C. Nolan, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, TX

In case you were wondering about how inclusive the Health Law Section can be, look no further… this month’s Chair’s Column is being authored by a young lawyer and a law student.  We are the Section’s 2018-2019 liaisons to the Young Lawyer Division (YLD) and Law Student Division (LSD), who have the distinct pleasure of serving on the Section’s governing council. 

In our roles, we work with the Section and our respective Divisions as ambassadors to inform these groups about any relevant issues or opportunities, and to provide a voice to our constituents.  The most frequent questions the two of us are asked are: (1) how do we engage your generation; and (2) what opportunities are available for young lawyers and law students?  One of us remembered a cheesy lyric from the old (yes, 1985 is now old) Whitney Houston cover of the song “Greatest Love of All,” which goes “[t]each them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside.” 

Cheesiness aside, we are, of course, looking for resources and content that help us be better at practicing law.  But we think our generation is also looking for opportunities to connect.  We are looking to find mentors, network with other attorneys, write, speak, and perhaps serve in a leadership role, even if we do not realize it yet.   

When was the last time you truly encouraged and taught a newer attorney or law student the importance of seeing opportunities outside of work? As the two of us learn more about the Section leadership, we find that a lot of people started in the Section as young lawyers and law students.  A lot of times a trusted mentor or colleague gave them the push they needed to be involved.  The encouragement of a more seasoned attorney truly does carry a lot of weight. 

So what opportunities are available for young lawyers and law students? The ABA is taking huge steps to help the new generation. Over the last few years we have seen the LSD completely revamp how it works with and attracts law students, including a new website, new dues structure, and increased engagement by staff and leaders.  The YLD does an incredible job coordinating with the other ABA Sections, Divisions, and Forums to provide great content.  The YLD also has its own substantive committees, including a YLD Healthcare Committee.  Both groups are constantly looking for volunteers to write, speak, and lead, and provide opportunities for training and networking.

Within the Health Law Section, law students and young lawyers serve in almost all of our interest groups and committees as representatives.  Many young lawyers contribute by speaking on webinars or at live events; publishing in the Health Lawyer, The ABA Health e-Source, and even the weekly HLBytes emails. The Section also offers a partial scholarship for up to five law students to attend the annual Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law Conference, which will be held in Orlando March 13-16, 2019.  Another great option for law students is to submit their writing to the Section’s law student writing competition.  The winner receives complimentary registration at the Emerging Issues meeting and an honorarium, as well as the opportunity for his/her paper to be published in the Health Lawyer.

As a young lawyer and law student, we were fortunate to have people encourage us to be active in the healthcare bar. We hope that you will consider reaching out to newer attorneys or law students to encourage them to get involved and help them find the beauty they possess inside.