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VOL. 127 | NO. 209 | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bar Launches Health Care Law Section

By Andy Meek

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The Memphis Bar Association has a new section of attorneys dedicated specifically to health care law.

The bar’s newly formed Health Law Section held its organizational meeting Oct. 17 at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Officers were chosen at that time, including Robyn Diaz, deputy general counsel at St. Jude, who led the effort to form the section and who was nominated as the first chair.

The new section’s attorneys also voted on a direction for the group, the formation of which is in some respects unsurprising and natural given the robust health care community that’s now established in Memphis. The political climate of the country also has health care reform as a topic of hot discussion, which only adds to what organizers think could make for a fruitful group.

“Memphis has a remarkably strong health care community, including hospitals, physician groups, research centers, universities and biotechnology, medical device and pharmaceutical companies,” Diaz said. “Those entities rely on talented practitioners of health law and life sciences law to advise them on the heavily regulated industries in which they operate.

“Until now, those attorneys have had to travel to other cities to attend continuing legal education programs focused on health and life sciences law.”

“Memphis has a remarkably strong health care community. ... Those entities rely on talented practitioners of health law and life sciences law to advise them on the heavily regulated industries in which they operate.”

–Robyn Diaz, Section Chair

In addition to Diaz, other officers chosen to lead the new section include Steve West, general counsel emeritus at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and of counsel at Glankler Brown PLLC, who was chosen as vice chair. Bill Bomar, member of Glankler Brown, is secretary, and Mary Ann Jackson, shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, is treasurer.

Board members chosen include Mary Margaret Petrinjak, an associate with Burch Porter & Johnson PLLC; Cindy Reisz, an attorney with Bass Berry & Sims PLC; Walt Schuler, an attorney for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center; Scott Shanker, an attorney with Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC; and Kathy Steuer, an attorney with St. Jude.

West said the formation of the group was “perfect timing” partly because of the move by the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law to recruit a health care law professor, in addition to the “world-class” health care organizations that already exist in Memphis.

Diaz said the section’s members unanimously voted to give back to the community by agreeing to sponsor next September’s Saturday legal clinic organized by the Memphis Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.

“Having previously practiced health law in Washington, D.C., where I was co-chair of the very active District of Columbia Bar Association Health Law Section, I am pleased to help lead the Memphis Bar Association Health Law Section through its inaugural year,” Diaz said. “The formation of the Health Law Section is particularly timely as the (Memphis law school) is developing its Center for Health Law, and as the Memphis community and the nation as a whole prepare for the post-election impact on implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

Holly Hazlett, director of development at the law school, told The Daily News the school is looking for a professor “who will kind of start up the health law program here.”

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