Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the Network for Public Health Law?
  2. What services does the Network for Public Health Law offer?
  3. How does technical assistance differ from legal advice?
  4. How is the Network for Public Health Law organized? Does the Network have Regional Offices?
  5. What are the hours of operation of the Network for Public Health Law?
  6. What are some of the specific topics in public health law for which the Network may be able to help me?
  7. How do I request technical assistance?
  8. What is the typical response time to a question?
  9. Do your services cost anything?
  10. Can individuals and organizations join the Network?
  11. How can I join the Network?
  12. What are the benefits of being a Network Member?
  13. What is expected of Members who join the Network?
  14. I am interested in having someone speak on a public health law topic at a conference or other event. Who should I contact?
  15. I am interested in having someone train my organization on using public health law. Who should I contact?
  16. Does the Network represent people, organizations, state agencies, etc.?
  17. Does the Network directly communicate with legislators or other policy-makers reflecting a position on specific public health legislation?
  18. Does your staff testify before U.S. Congress and/or legislatures?
  19. I am a member of the press and would like to conduct an interview with a member of the Network. What is the process I should follow?
  20. What are public health laws?
  21. What are the roles and responsibilities of public health lawyers?
  22. How is the Network funded? Can other supporters fund the Network?

  1. What is the purpose of the Network for Public Health Law?

    The purpose of the Network for Public Health Law is to increase the use and the effectiveness of public health laws in protecting, promoting and improving public health. The Network connects public health practitioners; local, tribal, state and federal officials; lawyers; policy-makers, public health advocates; and others.

  2. What services does the Network for Public Health Law offer?

    The Network for Public Health Law builds relationships, delivers technical assistance and provides training. Technical assistance includes support to develop, implement and enforce policies to help achieve a public health objective or goal. Technical assistance also includes help finding resources, such as existing legal briefs, fact sheets or other available data. Technical assistance does not include providing legal advice or representation.

  3. How does technical assistance differ from legal advice?

    Legal advice is typically defined as giving a formal or informal legal opinion by a licensed attorney. It tends to be more narrow and particular in focus and usually involves applying or interpreting law to a factual situation presented by a client. Only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice within any jurisdiction. Technical assistance, however, is defined as the act of strategizing with individuals on potential legal options not in an attorney/ client situation.Generally, technical assistance provided on a particular topic may be useful in a variety of jurisdictions or factual circumstances while legal advice answers a specific question for a particular client or jurisdiction and may or may not be useful in other situations or jurisdictions.

  4. How is the Network for Public Health Law organized? Does the Network have Regional Offices?

    The Network is made up of lawyers; public health practitioners; local, tribal, state and federal officials; policy-makers; public health advocates; organizations; and others. At this time, the Network has a National Coordinating Center and five regions. Each state, tribe and territory is assigned to a region, which is led by a Regional Office in that area. The regions are divided as follows:

    • Eastern Region – Office located at The University of Maryland School of Law, which is working with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This Region includes: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.
    • Mid-States Region – Office located at University of Michigan School of Public Health. This Region includes: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
    • Northern Region (National Coordinating Center) – Office located at the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law. This Region includes: Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
    • Southeastern Region – Offices located at the North Carolina Institute for Public Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the National Health Law Program. This Region includes: Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, U.S. Virgin Islands and Virginia.
    • Western Region – Offices located at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and at the University of New Mexico School of Law. This Region includes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.

  5. What are the hours of operation of the Network for Public Health Law?

    The Network for Public Health Law is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the respective time zone of the region’s main office.

  6. What are some of the specific topics in public health law for which the Network may be able to help me?

    The Network has identified broad public health law areas of expertise. These topics include (each links to the correct Web page associated with the topic):

    For a description of a specific public health law topic and the technical assistance available, please visit the Web pages above. In addition to these topics, the Network connects with people and entities with expertise and experience in other areas of public health law. Please contact us by e-mail or phone for more information.

  7. How do I request technical assistance?

    It’s easy. You can contact the Network by e-mail or phone. See Ask a Question for more information. Please note that the Network is unable to provide technical assistance to anonymous individuals or organizations.

  8. What is the typical response time to a question?

    The Network will make every effort to respond within 72 hours after the Network receives your question or request. If your need for service is urgent, please make that clear in your initial inquiry and the Network may be able to treat your request as time sensitive. Complex questions will require detailed legal research and hence may take longer to answer.

  9. Do your services cost anything?

    Most services are available at no cost to you. There may be a reasonable charge for some Network services in the future. Please contact the Network for more information.

  10. Can individuals and organizations join the Network?

    Yes. Both individuals and organizations may join the Network, including federal, tribal, state and local public health agencies and officials; public health attorneys; public health advocacy organizations and individual advocates; public health researchers and organizations; policy-makers (including elected and appointed officials); and other organizations or individuals committed to using the law to improve public health.

  11. How can I join the Network?

    Please visit Join the Network.

  12. What are the benefits of being part of the Network?

    All those in the Network benefit from communications on current issues in public health law and from the opportunity to build professional working relationships with others in the Network. As a part of the Network, you will be readily informed and kept up to date about available access to the Network’s technical legal assistance, training and educational programs, as well as ongoing communications and dialogues on public health law topics. An organization that joins the Network to provide assistance, information and training on public health issues may benefit from the Network’s ability to connect public health practitioners and advocates to your organization, and to promote your research and resources to the public health community. The Network could also offer opportunities to speak at Network conferences and workshops or otherwise serve as consultants on Network projects.

  13. What is expected of those who join the Network?

    Those who join the Network may range from those who are seeking assistance to those who are experts in the public health law field. Those who are seeking technical assistance services are invited to submit requests with sufficient detail to allow for an accurate response and thorough research and analysis. There may also be an opportunity to share experiences with other public health agencies and officials that are facing similar challenges. All are encouraged to promote the Network within the public health and legal communities. Though individuals and organizations are encouraged to join the Network, they do not have to join to access the Network’s services.Those who join the Network to provide their assistance, research or training on public health law issues are encouraged to collaborate with Network staff. If willing and able, they may be asked by the Network to provide their services directly to an individual or organization seeking assistance. They may also refer others to the Network for assistance. Again, all are encouraged to promote the Network within the public health and legal communities.

  14. I am interested in having someone speak on a public health law topic at a conference or other event. Who should I contact?

    Please contact the Network at 651-695-7749. Depending on availability, you will be put in touch with the appropriate person for the speaking engagement.

  15. I am interested in having someone train my organization on using public health law. Who should I contact?

    Please contact the Network at 651-695-7749. Depending on availability, you will be put in touch with the appropriate person to assist you with training.

  16. Does the Network represent people, organizations, state agencies, etc.?

    No. While the Network provides technical assistance to individuals, groups, organizations or state agencies, the Network cannot provide legal representation to any individual or entity in any administrative or court proceeding.

  17. Does the Network directly communicate with legislators or other policy-makers reflecting a position on specific public health legislation?

    No. The Network does not directly communicate its positions on specific public health legislation. The Network strives to inform and improve public health; it does not “lobby.” However, technical legal assistance is available to legislators and others interested in developing and pursuing sound public health policy through the passage of statutes or ordinances or development of regulations. That assistance includes sharing relevant data and research, analyzing potential legal hurdles, providing expert testimony at legislative hearings and other supportive action.

  18. Does your staff testify before U.S. Congress and/or state legislatures?

    Yes. Network personnel are able to testify before federal and state legislatures on issues of public health if invited to speak on a relevant topic. Please contact the Network at 651-695-7749 for more information.

  19. I am a member of the press and would like to conduct an interview with a member of the Network. What is the process I should follow?

    For media requests, please contact the Network at 651-695-7749 to be put in touch with the appropriate person to interview.

  20. What are public health laws?

    Public health laws include all statutes and regulations that directly or indirectly promote, protect or improve the public’s health and safety. Public health laws help to create and govern public health agencies, as well as regulate private sector actors in the interests of the public’s health. Some public health laws clearly identify, prevent and reduce risks to health and safety, including laws that ban smoking in public places, protect our food supply and require the use of vaccines to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. Some laws often have unintentional impacts on public health and safety. For example, zoning laws that require sidewalks, parks and playgrounds in residential areas increase opportunities for physical activity, which may decrease the risks of obesity in a community.

  21. What are the roles and responsibilities of public health lawyers?

    Public health lawyers assist local, state, tribal and federal public health officials and their legal counsel, legislators, members of the judiciary, regulators and advocates in developing, interpreting, implementing and enforcing laws, regulations and policies that protect, promote and improve the public’s health and safety. Public health law academicians provide training and conduct research to support public health law. Public health lawyers also defend sound public health policies against legal or political challenges. Some public health departments have their own legal counsel. Others rely on city, county, tribal or state attorneys, or private counsels, to serve that role.

  22. How is the Network funded? Can other supporters fund the Network?

    The Network is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Network would like other funders to support the Network’s goals. Those interested in funding the Network should call 651-695-7749.