Monday October 10, 2016

A Razor Sharp Focus

Shying away from a challenge was never something that plagued Martin Hamlette '02, J.D., M.H.A., executive director of the National Medical Association. He simply focused.

His motivation to help improve the public health of the nation has taken his career across both public and private sectors of healthcare, working with reform issues, health law and policy, and its impact on medically diverse populations and the health professionals who treat them.

But he didn't start law school with the healthcare field in mind. "Growing up in New Jersey my father was an attorney in private practice, so that's where I received my initial exposure to the practice of law. I've always wanted to apply my own legal acumen to a larger industry in order to help others." After attending Howard University, where he earned his economics degree, Hamlette was drawn to Dayton to begin his legal path.

"I knew some upperclassmen at the law school who, like me, had attended one of the HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities)," said Hamlette. "I found Dayton's School of Law to be a welcoming environment. It was a settled place to focus on the coursework and begin to hone my interest in healthcare.

The law school itself was a beautiful building. But I especially liked the smaller class size, the access to terrific law professors, and the opportunity to get involved in clubs and activities I was interested in within the law school, like politics." Hamlette was elected 1L class Vice President.

He felt that the accessibility of the law faculty was also instrumental. "They offered guidance as I grew in my legal knowledge that helped shape my career plans and goals."

Dayton was more than just a place to study law for Hamlette. "The City of Dayton offered local chapters of organizations I was involved in, as well as churches, and social activities so I could continue that involvement during law school," he said.

While at Dayton Law, Hamlette served as a moot court coach and was a finalist in the Hon. Walter H. Rice Moot Court Competition. He also worked as a county court judicial clerk.

"The Hon. Walter H. Rice Moot Court finalist award was a highlight, as was my judicial and 2L summer clerkship opportunity at Sebly Shillito + Dyer," said Hamlette. "The close-knit relationship between the law school and the greater Dayton legal community afforded me clerkships and opportunities that would be hard to match in a larger city. These types of experiences are essential for students determining the direction of their legal career."

He adds, "For me, it is the culmination of the experience I had at Dayton Law. All of those opportunities combined together got me to where I am today."

After completing his studies at the University of Dayton, and practice as in-house counsel for a health insurance company, Hamlette went on to earn his master of health administration degree, with a concentration in finance, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2006.

Then in 2007, newly-elected Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty named Hamlette as the chief health policy advisor under the Executive Office of the Mayor, Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Hamlette's main responsibility was to be the policy and legislative strategist for the District's healthcare cluster agencies. He also authored policy positions, drafted legislation and testified at public hearings, which later garnered him a letter of commendation from the mayor.

"The quality of the instruction at Dayton Law gave me the tools to be well equipped as a lawyer," Hamlette said.

His career then took him into private practice as counsel and administrator to medical providers, state government and a professional medical association on issues arising from and related to the Affordable Care Act.

In 2015, he was named to the prestigious role of executive director of the National Medical Association (NMA), the largest and oldest national organization representing the interests of more than 30,000 African American physicians through more than 108 medical societies throughout the United States and the Caribbean. The organization has a vital role in shaping the healthcare environment of the nation. For instance, the NMA was the lead medical association in supporting President Lyndon B. Johnson with the development of the Medicare Act of 1965. President Johnson addressed the NMA's Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly in August 1968, praising the organization for its leadership. Today, the NMA continues its focus on education and advocacy on issues of access to care, the medical conditions that disproportionately impact populations of color, and aging and wellness.

"Primarily I deal with commercial contracts, protection of intellectual property and general corporate counseling. Whether it's contracting issues, human resources or liability issues, I use my law degree every day," said Hamlette.

The NMA partners with several government agencies, foundations and traditional healthcare entities as well as corporations that have recently become involved in healthcare with the introduction of the "one piece of legislation that has changed everything in American healthcare in the last few years - the Affordable Care Act."

A leader in the healthcare community, Hamlette has also served on the Board of Directors for the American College of Healthcare Executives (National Capital Chapter) and as an adjunct professor of health law and management. He is an active speaker and presenter, and was recently featured in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's column in MedPage Today. Hamlette is also excited to be working closely with Dayton Law on the recruitment and retention of minority law students.

His advice to new law students is not surprising: Focus.

"Realize that law school is a big undertaking so give it your complete focus, dive-in and be ready to work. You have to read and understand the material; be prepared to do this from day one. Have side- bar conversations with your professors and come with pointed questions. This will give you confidence in your abilities."

Although Hamlette knows that bar preparation is essential, he suggests, "When the time comes, treat the bar exam like it's just another set of finals. You have been taking them for three years. Don't overstress. You are ready."

That outlook helped Hamlette to successfully complete both the Maryland and New Jersey bar exams in July 2002. He is also licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C. Hamlette is a member of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., the National Bar Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., 100 Black Men of America, Inc., and a 32nd degree Prince Hall Mason. He lives in Washington, D.C., and is an avid golfer and long distance runner.


For more information, contact Denise Baker, assistant director of communications at the University of Dayton School of Law, at lawcomm@udayton.edu.

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