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September 26, 2022

Chair's Column: Welcome, Thank You, and Setting the Vibe for the New ABA Bar Year. This Will Be Fun!

Kathy Poppitt, King & Spalding LLP, Austin, TX

The 2022–2023 ABA bar year has just started and, for better or worse, I am now the Chair of the Health Law Section (“HLS”). Welcome to the new year all of you, whether you just joined us or are a familiar face. I could not be more proud, honored, excited, and a bit intimidated to be the HLS Chair this year. Such big shoes to try to step into.

Being involved in the HLS and moving gradually into its leadership has been by far the most rewarding aspect of my legal career. The friends and contacts made are beyond value, so one of my goals this year is to make that true for each of you.

Coming off of the appointment process, where I had the chance to talk to many of you and get feedback, and the awesome Leadership Meeting in July 2022 in Salt Lake City, I have the following thanks and challenges for all of us for the 2022–2023 bar year.


First, I thank everyone who has been a stalwart and strong member and leader of the HLS, no matter the circumstances. There really is no Section without each and every one of you. I cannot thank you enough for your efforts in keeping this Section relevant and exciting for its members. Involvement in the HLS is a huge and rewarding opportunity and responsibility. It is up to each of you to make the most of these opportunities and promote the practice of health law.

Second, one of the reasons that I am so humbled to be in this position as Chair is that those who have come before me in the past few years have confronted and conquered so many considerable challenges. We all stand on the very strong shoulders of those who went before us, but, without going back too far, I want to recognize the heroic efforts of recent past chairs Hien McCombs, Joyce Hall, and Hilary Young in dealing with the many ABA changes and the resulting financial impacts related to the alterations in the membership and CLE structure. I am quite sure that we would not be the strong HLS that we are today if not for their amazing leadership and advocacy during these times. At least equally important is the leadership of those HLS Chairs who followed next and led us both through and out of the pandemic, Jay McEniry, Hal Katz, and Clay Countryman. No people could have been better leaders during such an unprecedented time. Clay had the opportunity to have two in-person conferences, and I am so privileged to be the first leader in years to have all of our conferences in person again. Thanks to all of you leaders who made this possible.

Of course, the real thanks goes to our amazing ABA staff that is led by Simeon Carson. We could not be more blessed to have such a team and leader. Our current team is the strongest and most dedicated I have worked with. Again, thanks to all of you, and I am so excited about how we have started the new year!

My Challenges for You and Myself

We are all coming out of a very difficult time and, if you are at all like me, you might be a bit on remote control and happy to live a more dialed-back life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and there are probably many things good about it. However, I am challenging each of you and myself to take some chances in HLS involvement and leadership, your career, and your life. I am thrilled for in-person meetings to be back in full swing and hope that you can feel and share that excitement. There is nothing like seeing each other and interacting in person. With all of that in mind, here are my challenges for you and myself:

  1. Be excited to engage with the HLS and find the enjoyment in doing so. Find ways to get involved in and connect with an IG or Task Force and other members. Each of you are the strength and future of the HLS and your involvement, excitement, and ideas are what make it all possible. I cannot stress this enough. Reach out with ideas or desires to be involved, and we will do what we can to make it happen.
  2. Enlist at least one more person you know to join as a member of the HLS. My goal for the year is to enlist at least five new members. Our firms and colleagues are often easy people to connect with for HLS membership. Let us know when you are successful and you will be eligible for an award.
  3. Attend at least one in-person HLS program this year. The HLS has several wonderful programs every year and we hope that you will attend at least one of them:

    ·       September 15–17, 2022 – Physicians Legal Issues: Healthcare Delivery & Innovation Conference, Fairmont Chicago - Millennium Park

    ·       December 12–13, 2022 – Washington Health Law Summit, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Washington, DC

    ·       December 14–15, 2022 – National Managed Care Institute[JC1] , Washington, DC

    ·       March 8–11, 2023 – 24th Annual Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law Conference – Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego
  4. Do something—or several things—outside your comfort zone. I have a few ideas on how I am going to incorporate this challenge into my monthly Chair columns. For instance, in September, I will be taking the Amtrak sleeper train from Austin to Chicago to attend the HLS PLI program and will post about that experience. I also intend to bike to work one day, which is way outside my comfort zone. Closer to the HLS Chair position, I have challenged myself to have periodic Q and As with judges and others with wisdom to share, and I will post these in order to help all of you with your practice. I am excited about this, so please stay tuned.

Please know that the HLS leadership is here to facilitate your involvement in the Section and that you can call on us at any time. I look forward to working with and talking to each of you over the next bar year and look forward to any feedback or suggestions you have.