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April 18, 2023

Chair’s Column

Wow! What a wonderful Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law Conference (EMI) I just attended in San Diego; Plus, recognition of the outstanding winners of awards presented at EMI

By Kathy Poppitt, King & Spalding LLP, Austin, TX

EMI Report

Let’s start with a huge shout out to the EMI planning committee and the staff who organized this wonderful conference. I have attended many EMIs over the years and have been on the planning committee for several of them so I am in a good position to say that the 2023 conference was particularly well done. The programming was right on point and insightful, the energy was high, and all of the attendees seemed to really enjoy the event. Who knew that we have so many members who can really belt it out at karaoke and dance like the stars? While I do not shine in either or these areas, I still had so much fun doing both with this crowd. I also want to thank all of the event sponsors and everyone else who attended. These events do not happen without each and every one of you.

Congratulations to the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Award, Law Student Competition, Emerging Young Lawyers in Healthcare, and Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

To me, the Health Law Section (HLS) embodies the ideals of the rigorous, informed, and ethical pursuit of the law. Providing excellent representation and advice to our clients is paramount, which is why the HLS learning programs serve such an important role in our careers. Equally important is the Section’s commitment to collegiality, diversity, equity, inclusion, mentorship, fellowship, and recognition of a job well done. 

Woohoo, Lisa Genecov!

Each year at EMI, the HLS presents the Champion of Diversity Award to one person who embodies diversity, equity, and inclusion in not only their ABA involvement but their practice and life in general. This year’s unanimous recipient of this award is Lisa Genecov. Most of you likely know Lisa well but since she is a humble person, but you may not know all of her accomplishments and why she is so deserving of this award.        

Lisa’s journey in diversity and inclusion started with her first mentor, her dad, Morris Atlas. I wish I had known this guy. He was her role model and hero in part because he showed her the tremendous benefits of living life along those who are different from you in many ways and of community leadership and mentorship. Lisa’s family is Jewish, and her mom and dad were both first-generation Americans. After college, they made what, to me, as a fellow Texan, seems like a very bold move and relocated to McAllen, TX, right on the border with Mexico, because they wanted to raise their family in a small town.   

As it is now, at that time, McAllen was very multicultural, and Lisa found it a great place to grow up. She and her siblings grew up in a very small religious group, but she had many, many friends who were culturally, religiously, and ethnically different than her. From being part of such a diverse group of people, Lisa learned that the differences among people and friends are great and very rewarding. Life can be so much richer when we interact with and learn from people from different backgrounds than our own. Growing up in this environment clearly helped form Lisa’s world view and passion for respecting and celebrating other people’s beliefs and life choices.

Lisa served as Chair of the HLS Diversity Committee. She is also a founding member and Immediate Past Chair of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas Law School, which is now a national organization focused on the retention and elevation of women in the practice of law. As if all of that were not enough, in 2015, Lisa also became the U.S. Chief Diversity Officer of a major global law firm, a role that she held for three years.

In her acceptance speech, Lisa shared the top 10 most important things that she has learned about the need for diversity and inclusion practices and ways to incorporate these ideals into our organizations and our lives. She acknowledges that these are not all easy to achieve but that they are important and rewarding:

No. 10: Seek out mentors. You can’t have too many mentors. Mentors can give you advice on how to search for jobs, introduce you to others in subject areas you want to practice in, help you define and pursue certain goals, and generally offer good advice.

No. 9: Seek out work, including hard/complex work and do the best that you can each time. Work doesn’t always fall in your lap. Be known as someone who gets things done.

No. 8: Build your internal and external networks. The more people you know, the more people you know and more opportunities will present themselves to you. Internal networks include your colleagues at work. They may leave and go to other companies, and ultimately, become clients or your future employers. Create or join external networks involving issues you are interested in (e.g., art, your kids’ school, sports, church, etc.). Join the ABA Health Law Section! You will make many friends who may very likely help you in various capacities down the road.

No. 7: Volunteer within your organization. Volunteering to work on a project, committee or other opportunity at work will help you meet all sorts of other people, help you develop leadership skills, and possibly get you noticed by others for elevation to other positions.

No. 6: Develop your brand, market it, and protect it. What do you want to be known for? Developing your brand is developing your reputation and making sure you get the word out there to your target markets. Hone your skills and protect your reputation.

The next five points are for the more senior folks:

No. 5: Help make your organization/place of work committed to diversity and inclusion. Help create a “culture of diversity and inclusion,” including taking steps to ensure that women and people of color are on key committees and ensure that hiring of women and people of color occurs at all levels of the organization.

No. 4: Be a mentor and ensure that your organization has a strong mentor program. This means being a sponsor. Help train your mentees, include them in business development pitches and meetings, help guide them, and help them develop their business.

No. 3: Be intentional about diversity and inclusion. D&I doesn’t just happen. It comes through the intentional extension of opportunities. It needs to be top of mind. Greater diversity in our organizations benefits everyone. It’s not just the right thing to do, it is also good business. Having a diverse group of people in the room brings various backgrounds and points of view and ultimately makes for a better decision or outcome.

No. 2: Ask someone who needs your guidance, “How can I help you?” or “How can we do better”? We can always learn from those who need our help.

No. 1: When choosing where you want to work—and this item really applies to everyone younger or more senior—make sure the place you pick truly values and practices diversity and inclusion.

Thank you so much, Lisa, for all that you have done and will do!

The Other Amazing Award Recipients

I want to highlight Thomas Salazar, who is a law student at the Pacific McGeorge School, for winning the Law Student Writing Competition with his paper A New Frontier: Human Subject Research Ethics in an Artificial Intelligence World. It is not only well written but a fascinating read. It will be published in the April issue of ABA Health Lawyer.

We also gave out five highly coveted awards to these very deserving Emerging Young Lawyers In Healthcare Law, such amazing people that we are glad and proud to call our own:

Bill Horton’s Lifetime Achievement Award

It was with a heavy heart but also profound gratitude for having known him that I wrote last week to let you know that our beloved friend and mentor William W. (“Bill”) Horton, proud husband, father, and grandfather and friend to many passed away on, March 7, 2023, at the age of 63 following a courageous battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his treasured family and was aware that so many of us were thinking about and praying for him and his family.

Bill was renowned for his keen intellect, quick wit, and encyclopedic knowledge. Most notable, though, was his sartorial splendor—he was always nattily attired in tailored Saville Row shirts, Jermyn Street ties, and handmade English shoes. Bucking the “business casual” trend, Bill inevitable was costumed in three-piece suits, usually pin-striped, complete with a watch chain from which a family heirloom railroad conductor’s watch hung in his vest pocket.

It is difficult to imagine an ABA meeting without Bill, but as one of his good friends noted, we are better for having known Bill and for his significant and longtime involvement in the HLS. The outpouring of love, support, and memories from his HLS family over the past few weeks has been so uplifting. At EMI, we presented Bill with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his longtime service to the Section, the ABA, the profession of law and just for being such a great guy. He is greatly missed and so fondly remembered.

As always, please remember that the leaders and staff of the HLS care about all of you and that you can call on us at any time. I look forward to working with and talking to each of you as our paths cross.

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