August 2012 Volume 8 Number 12

Chair's Column: When I'm Sixty-Four

By David H. Johnson, Bannerman & Johnson, P.A., Albuquerque, NM

AuthorIt was June 1967 when Sgt. Pepper appeared on record store shelves. Its sometimes inscrutable lyrics invited analysis and reflection, affirming a change in both popular music and culture. One song in particular, however, seemed oddly out of place: a music hall ditty called “When I’m Sixty-Four.” Its invocation of the aging process, seen from the perspective of its principal composer, Paul McCartney, whose father was 64, was odd, at best, to me, a 19 year old. Lines like “Yours sincerely, wasting away” were harrowing rather than inviting. It was best to put that picture far out of mind, which, if you are familiar with the times, was not hard to do.

By now, I assume that you may have guessed that I turned 64 this year. I am one of those people to whom professional success, as an attorney, came later in life. As the poet, Charles Bukowski, another late-bloomer, remarked, “That beats the other.” This is my final column as Chair of the Health Law Section. Over the past twelve months I have tried to focus this column on the processes of being a health lawyer and those facets of practice that I find intriguing and even compelling. I have greatly appreciated your comments on the columns. Thank you for your encouragement.

Before I became Chair, several former chairs warned me that this office would be more time consuming than I realized. What I did not fully anticipate was how rewarding it would be. Rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction to be sure, but the greatest reward has been the experience of working with an extraordinary team of talented and committed individuals. To begin, the Section is blessed with an able team of ABA staff members, who, operating outside of the spotlight, apply their talents to not only the everyday bureaucratic affairs of the Section, but who are also indispensable in program planning and identifying and supporting new initiatives. Many thanks to Wanda Workman, Simeon Carson and Amy Alder. You have made my work ever so much easier and pleasurable.

Like volunteer organizations generally, the success of the Section is dependent on its membership and, particularly, the efforts of those who volunteer to serve in its leadership. To the extent that this has been a good year for the Section, and I think it has been a very good year, you deserve, along with our staff, the credit. I particularly wish to thank the officers who have served along with me. First, I cannot think of a better person to succeed me than David Douglass. His parents’ choice of given names aside (three of the last four chairs have been Davids), David personifies organization, smarts, and commitment, not to mention having an appreciation of Etta James. Next, our Chair-Elect, Kathye Scully-Hayes, adds to this mix her perspective as not only a government lawyer, but also a member of the judiciary, a first for the Section on both counts and a welcome return to gender balance after a run of Davids. Finally, Vice-Chair Michael E. Clark, brings not only the viewpoint of a white collar defense lawyer, but also a scholarly approach to our discipline (I know no one with more LLMs) and a penchant for Hawaiian shirts.

Most of all, thanks to you, our members. It has been a great ride. As Paul reminds us, “You’ll be older, too.” Indeed, we will.

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