Amelia Henderson recently was elected a partner at Smith Hulsey & Busey in the law firm’s health care and corporate departments. She practices transactional, regulatory, trademark and trust and estate law.
What inspired you to become a lawyer? I have always loved learning and decided to attend law school when I realized that practicing law would allow me to continue learning throughout my career.
Someone other than my spouse who inspires me: My friend, and fellow local lawyer, Jennifer Shoaf Richardson. Jenny is an incredible leader who does not hesitate to speak up for what she believes is right. She has made great strides for gender equality in the legal profession as the president of JWLA, and now as president of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers.
How does your undergraduate degree relate to your practice of law? My education in business finance helps me understand many nonlegal aspects of corporate transactions. I also believe it enables me to better see things from the client’s perspective when working with business owners and executives.
How did you decide your practice area? I always hoped to practice business law to put my undergraduate education to use. Health care law found me when I joined Smith Hulsey & Busey. It has been a natural fit because it is such an interesting and evolving area of law and because my husband also works in the health care industry.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? Health care law has changed the most since I passed the Bar, with the implementation of, and revisions and challenges to, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? I suspect health care law will continue to experience the biggest changes. Knowing what will come next is difficult in such a highly political area of law, but I expect that the law will continue moving toward paying health care providers based on the quality of care and incentivizing them to lower costs. We have been fortunate to work with clients proactively seeking to achieve these aims through clinically integrated networks, and I hope their efforts will be rewarded.
If I could change anything in the legal system, I would: Increase civics education for the public to encourage better understanding of how the legal system works, including why they should care about voting to elect and retain judges and why jury service is important.
What community service have you pursued and why that? I got involved in the Jacksonville Women Lawyers Association soon after beginning to practice law hoping to meet other women lawyers and learn more about our local legal community. I served on the board for several years, rising to president in 2016, helping to grow JWLA’s membership and public profile, and seeking to further its mission of promoting gender equality and leadership for women lawyers. I currently chair a committee of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation’s Food Deserts Coalition. Food deserts, areas lacking access to fresh and affordable food, represent a critical health issue and significant opportunity for improving our community.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Get involved in an organization outside of your paying job and take on some responsibility. You can gain leadership experience and relationships that will help you in your career, as well as the satisfaction that comes from serving your community.