Frequently Asked Questions - Name Change
What prompted the AHLA to review its name?
- As part of its strategic planning process, AHLA’s Board and staff regularly review how best to position AHLA for the future in the face of a rapidly changing health law environment. This is an overarching review of all aspects of the organization, including such things as dues structure, membership initiatives and content delivery methods.
- In January 2019, the AHLA Board received a report from an outside consultant retained to review the dues structure and other membership issues. Among its recommendations, the consultant noted its view that the AHLA name was a potential barrier to non-lawyer membership growth and recommended that AHLA consider a name change in light of the growth of the number of non-lawyer health law professionals in the health law field. After much discussion, the Board concluded a potential name change should be given serious consideration, but that additional information would be needed in order for the Board to make an informed decision.
- AHLA staff and the Board’s Membership, Diversity and Inclusion Committee conducted a comprehensive review of the issue, including environmental scans, personal outreach, and market research (surveys, interviews, and focus groups.) Findings were presented to the full Board at the 2019 Annual Meeting and at a special Board meeting in September 2019.
- At the September board meeting, the Board had a robust discussion of the issue and after full deliberations voted to change the name of the organization to the American Health Law Association.
Why did the Board decide that a name change was needed?
- AHLA has long been the preeminent professional and educational organization for health lawyers. AHLA’s rich fifty-year history as the professional home for health lawyers is a precious asset that we all strive to maintain. That said, ensuring the long-term prosperity of AHLA requires us to be mindful of the changing landscape of the health law profession. As the Board looked at that landscape, several things became apparent.
- Ensuring the ongoing vitality of the organization will require maintaining a vibrant pipeline of new and energetic health law professional members as many current members will retire from practice in the next five to ten years.
- Our current new members have told us that they want the opportunity to network broadly with all professionals in the health law field, not just attorneys.
- The health law educational landscape is shifting as numerous law schools have created Master of Jurisprudence or other similar degree programs in health law. Graduates of these programs will not have a JD and cannot sit for the Bar, but are expected to perform functions previously performed by health lawyers.
- Our survey data and other anecdotal information suggest that at least some non-lawyer health care professionals perceived the current name as a barrier to their involvement in AHLA.
- Based on this information, the Board concluded that changing the name to the American Health Law Association would be in the best long-term interest of the AHLA. It is a subtle change that broadens the AHLA “tent” to be welcoming of non-lawyer health law professionals while maintaining the AHLA brand that is so important to our loyal attorney members.
How will we retain the professional identity for those health lawyers who value that?
- AHLA will continue to provide health lawyers the resources and networking opportunities that have made AHLA their home for over 50 years.
- Members look to AHLA for high quality health law education and content – this will not change. To the contrary, our high-quality content will continue to be one of our main selling points to health law professionals who are not yet members, and we intend to make cutting edge content generation and quality control fundamental tenets of strategic planning as we move forward.
- We anticipate that health lawyers will remain our core constituency for the foreseeable future and will continue to focus on all the needs of our health lawyer constituency, even as we expand our outreach to other health law professionals to ensure the continued growth and vibrancy of the Association.