National health law award bestowed on TU College of Law valedictorian

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Heather "Lane" Wood, valedictorian of the December 2007 graduating class of The University of Tulsa College of Law, has been recognized with the Roscoe Pound Civil Justice Institute's Elaine Osborne Jacobson Award as the nation's top female student in health law.

Wood will receive a $3,000 scholarship and an all-expense paid trip to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America annual meeting, to be held July 12-16 in Philadelphia. She will be honored by the Pound Institute at a July 12 luncheon and at a July 14 formal banquet, at which the award will be presented by the Jacobson family.

The award was established in 1991 to honor the late Elaine Osborne Jacobson, an advocate for the health care needs of under-served populations. The award recognizes female law students with an aptitude for and commitment to a career of advocacy for the health care needs of women, children, the elderly and disabled persons.

This is the third time in the past decade that a TU College of Law student has earned this prestigious national award. Previous winners were Donna DeSimone in 1998 and Corrine O'Day in 2003. Each recipient authored seminar papers for TU's health law program under the guidance of Professor Marguerite Chapman, director of the program.

"In my experience, the students who have won this national award not only are excellent academically but they also are extraordinary leaders who have devoted countless hours to improving the health needs of women, children, vulnerable adults and those who are marginalized by society," Chapman said. "Lane certainly is among the best in each of these categories."

Wood's paper entitled "A Young Vaccine for Young Girls: Should the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Be Mandatory for Public School Attendance?" was published in the American Bar Association's The Health Lawyer, June 2008 edition.

Another of significant achievements was researching and drafting a 36-page consumer guide, "Your Right to Decide: Oklahoma’s Advance Directive and Other Health Care Planning Tools" published in November 2007 in conjunction with Attorney General Drew Edmondson's office and St. John Medical Center in Tulsa. 

Wood not only worked on this project for her spring 2007 health law externship, but she donated an additional 60 hours of her time during the summer and fall 2007 to complete the work and helping with the grant application process to secure funds to publish the guide. Today, the guide is available in both printed form and electronic format, and it has been used by thousands of Oklahomans.

Wood is now an associate member practicing health law for the Dallas firm of Haynes and Boone.

Jimmy Hart