The Network for Public Health Law’s first Annual Report provides a snapshot of a growing organization serving its many communities through numerous channels. Based at the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law, the Network for Public Health Law is a legal network comprised of colleges and universities, organizations, and individuals from around the country.
A national leader
The Network for Public Health Law is based at the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell. It is the national coordinating center and serves eight Northern states. Other regional centers include:
The University of Maryland School of Law, which works in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to service the East Region
The University of Michigan School of Public Health, which serves the Mid-States Region
The North Carolina Institute for Public Health at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and at the National Health Law Program in Chapel Hill, N.C., which serve the The Southeastern Region
The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico School of Law, which serve the The Western Region
The network was formed in the fall of 2010 to provide legal assistance for people who promote and protect public health. Hundreds of members later, the group is thriving, helping with issues ranging from tobacco to bedbugs. The network has 1,834 members from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
“We’ve been able to connect legal experts throughout the country with public health practitioners, advocates, and policy makers to use law as an important tool to protect and improve public health,” says Dan Stier, director of the Network and its National Coordinating Center at William Mitchell. “As we continue to grow, this ‘networking” synergy’ will generate a sum that is so much greater than its individual parts.”
To help work through the many legal requests it receives, the network is divided into five regions, each of which is based at a university (see sidebar). The National Coordinating Center also serves as the Northern Region. Nationwide, the network handled 369 requests for assistance in its first 16 months. The most frequent topics were emergency legal preparedness, statutes and regulatory information, and agency accreditation/shared services.
In addition to offering legal advice, Network leaders participated in meetings and conferences of public health officials in 30 states. State level officials from an additional 15 states as well as Puerto Rico attended in-person meetings hosted by the network. Plans for 2012 include co-hosting a public health law conference in Atlanta in October and developing a student network on university campuses that have both law and public health programs.
For Stier, the Network’s first annual report isn’t just a look back, it’s a sign of things to come. “I felt that I had landed a dream job when I was selected to lead the network’s national office,” he says. “This first year confirms that the feeling was right on the money.”