How the Health Law Association is Changing the Game at UVa Law

Virginia Health Law Association
(they/them/theirs)

This past year, no student organization has generated more discussion on campus than Health law Association (HLA), which went from relative obscurity to becoming the campus’ hottest student org. Keep reading for more on this popular and sometimes controversial organization and their plans for this semester.

How long has Health Law Association been around?

Some say that HLA existed before the Law School, but we don’t think that’s important. Chicken/egg, egg/chicken? What matters is that HLA is still here and stronger than ever. We’re continuing to generate buzz on campus. For example, in September we had a general interest meeting where we offered free pizza and a free side salad. Who does that, just give away free food like that to the masses? It’s crazy, but it’s what we’re all about: inclusion and acceptance. It’s our cornerstone, really. Yeah, we draw an inevitable contrast to UVa charging $65 to go to Barrister’s. Does that make us more inclusive than UVa? Hey, you said it, not us.

What are the goals of the organization?

We want to be the best—it’s that simple, really. Consider Law Review. We all know how badly 1Ls hope to make Law Review; our goal is that in the next few years, people will want to join HLA with that same sort of fervor. And to be honest, we’re practically there already. We understand that we dominate the social scene here at UVa, and it’s not lost on us that we throw the most impressive career panels and talks. So going forward, we just want the recognition amongst the Charlottesville community of today’s reality: we are the top dog.

We also hope to reach one million likes on Facebook in 2019. Currently, we have 140 likes, so we are not quite there yet. But with our #roadtoonemillion campaign, we anticipate reaching one million likes by December. Who knows—the sky is our limit at HLA. Like us at facebook.com/HLAatUVA.

Lastly, we hope to eradicate the problem of a lack of suitable drinking water in this world. There has been a lot of conversation on campus about why the HLA bulletin board is blank. It’s not out of laziness; we’re making a statement here. There are currently 844 million people without suitable drinking water in this world. Safe water should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban metropolises. Thus, until that number hits zero, we at HLA will continue keeping our board barren, standing in solidarity with all those who lack access.

 The barren HLA bulletin board. Nothing will be posted on it until there is no longer a lack of suitable drinking water in this world. Photo courtesy of HLA.

The barren HLA bulletin board. Nothing will be posted on it until there is no longer a lack of suitable drinking water in this world. Photo courtesy of HLA.

Why should people join?

To be part of something truly elite. HLA is greater than any one person. We provide a forum in which students, academics, professionals, and community partners with an interest in health law can collaborate to enhance our understanding of the health law practice and advance the health and wellness of our communities.

Moreover, if you’re not with us, you’re against us. And believe us when we say HLA is not an enemy you want to have. We know we have haters (we’re not dumb). But bad news: we have so much more for our haters to be mad at—just be patient. A wolf doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

Just read what our members have to say: 

“It’s funny—you read about Jonestown and you can’t begin to grasp how a group of people could be so committed to a cult to the point where they would drink the Kool-Aid and kill themselves for it. And now, after being part of HLA, I finally get it.” – Alana Broe, Vice President of Social Events and Interdisciplinary Activities

“Being in HLA is like being hugged by an angel.” – Anonymous 1L HLA Member

“The instructions in my will are simple. Leave all my earthly belongings to my fiancé, Sanders. Except my HLA t-shirt—bury me in that.” – Caroline Kessler, President

What events have been held in the past? 

Well, in October, we had our first annual Health Law & Business Mixer. It was a true rager, so much so that Pav security got called on us. 2L partygoer Angela Dunay described it as a “huge success.” “I don’t socialize when my boyfriend Andrew is out of town, but I made an exception for the HLA party that evening. It was that sort of night, if you know what I mean,” Dunay said.

 Party critic Angela Dunay has nothing but positive things to say about HLA's party. Photo courtesy of HLA.

Party critic Angela Dunay has nothing but positive things to say about HLA's party. Photo courtesy of HLA.

Then in November, we held our annual Fall Career Panel. Organized by 2L celebrity and Vice President of Academic and Career Events Will Hall, our panel featured exclusively women. This was our stance against the patriarchy. We received a lot of positive press about it, and we’ve quickly outpaced Virginia Law Women when it comes to advocating for women in the field of law.

Speaking of your career panel, would you care to comment on the controversy HLA found itself embroiled in last semester?

Ah, the elephant in the room: Laura Dern. Our Fyre Festival, if you will. Look, for that Fall Career Panel, we had a host of great speakers share their rich experiences in the field of health law, ranging from an associate working on FDA regulatory matters to a trial attorney working in the DOJ’s vaccine litigation group. But no, we didn’t have any insights from Big Little Lies’ Laura Dern, whom many people showed up to hear from after widespread rumors of her appearance at the event. Indeed, rumors ran rampant that Ms. Dern would be making an appearance to discuss a career in health law, and we know there were a lot of faces in that crowd who were feeling the Dern, so to speak. Well, we at HLA failed to quash these rumors. But let us be clear here. We learned a lesson, we have moved forward in the face of significant backlash, and we choose to live in the present. Our past does not define us.

What events are coming up this semester?

HLA has loaded the docket this semester, as we are officially the most active student organization on Grounds.

First, we have our annual Spring Career Panel on February 22 from 4 to 5 in Purcell Reading Room. This is an excellent opportunity to network ahead of OGI and learn more about law firm careers in health law. We have the hottest names in the field of law.

We’re also having a President’s Day party on February 16 to celebrate the new HLA board after elections take place this month. Should be pretty belligerent.

Can you comment further on the elections?

This February, there is about to be a tremendous power vacuum on North Grounds. The current HLA board plans to step down from their positions, and a new host of health law aficionados shall ascend to power. Students can apply for President, Vice President of Academic and Career Events, Vice President of Social Events and Interdisciplinary Activities, Vice President of Communications, Vice President of Finance, and/or Vice President of Pro Bono Activities. It promises to be the most bitterly contested, contentious HLA elections to date.

To learn how to join our movement, contact HLA President Caroline Kessler at cdk2rh@virginia.edu.