In her new office at The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, a thousand miles from where she grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., Amy Campbell is getting used to all things Southern.
Most of them, anyway, making exceptions for “the humidity and the bugs,” she said. “Other than that, I’m fine.”
Campbell is a new associate professor for the law school and the director of the Health Law Institute, a facet of the college still in its nascent stages of development but with a distinct vision for the future.
The institute looks to become a regionally, if not nationally, recognized center for health law and policy. It will “focus on education and a strong health law curriculum that has traditional doctrinal courses, but also emphasizes practical skills and learning experiences with our rich health law community in the region,” Campbell said.
The health care community is rich within Memphis, as is the legal community, and Campbell hopes to tap into both, creating an interdisciplinary program that calls upon resources within The University of Memphis and other regional institutions such as The University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Health law is a growing field, and the implications cross all industries when one considers corporate human resources concerns such as employee benefits and policies that seem to be in daily flux. There is plenty to challenge any law student with the “traditional, transactional health care work – where you’re working with health systems or hospitals – and that, I think, is going to be an important area, and physician practices and the like,” she said, adding that “… because of the proliferation of health laws, if you will, there are certainly a lot of areas for litigation, too, or sort of the fraud and abuse side.”
An area of focus within health law that particularly interests Campbell – and that she sees as a burgeoning field within health law in general – is in looking at the health of not only individuals, but also of society as a whole.
“I love being around new ideas, new students with a great energy.”
“There’s a sort of a growth in law’s interaction around public health, or the population’s health,” she said, “so it’s different a little bit than your transactional. But if we look at population health and the role for law within that, we want to be involved in that area as well.”
Campbell grew up in New York to an engineer father and accountant mother, and attended Notre Dame University, where she studied history and peace studies with its curriculum that looked at conflict resolution.
Interested in politics and policy and “how laws came to be in legislation” yet uncertain of her next move after graduating in 1993, she took a year off from school. In talking with faculty members in the college town of her childhood, she was advised to work toward a law degree and its adaptive uses. She attended Yale Law School, focusing on bioethics, and graduated in 1997.
She practiced with a health law firm in Philadelphia for two years in the late 1990s, at a time when the specialization was beginning to explode as talk of universal health care became a hot political topic.
“My career has sort of followed a very interdisciplinary take on lawyering,” she said.
After her stint at the firm, she looked more toward academia as a way of life. She has held several positions, including associate professor in the departments of psychiatry, and bioethics and humanities at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., as well as adjunct senior instructor, Division of Medical Humanities University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y.
“I was more of a policy person, so I kind of switched to that,” she said. “I love being around new ideas, new students with a great energy; I find it energizing. This kind of position is great for me because it involves a lot of teaching and scholarship, but then it also involves a lot of program development and community engagement, which is really a pleasure.”
Campbell moved to Memphis in August and, when she’s been able to escape her paper-strewn office and to-do lists, has spent as much time as she can exploring the city, meeting people and taking her dog, Lucy, to Overton Bark dog park in Midtown.
“You know, I’m not from here,” she said. “I’m from New York of all things, so I wasn’t sure, but everyone’s been very welcoming. So I’m very pleased with the decision – other than the bugs and the weather.”