Karen Owen Gibbs
Partner, McDermott Will & Emery
Office: Chicago
Years at the Firm: 5

What is your favorite part of practicing health care law?

US health care law is interesting, fast-changing and relevant to virtually every person in the United States. As the health care space changes to incorporate new technologies and adjusts to meet patient expectations, I work with my clients on a range of issues that were not on the radar 10 or even five years ago. For example, I do a lot of work in the pharmaceutical industry, including facilitating collaborations between traditional pharma companies and new players, helping clients address reimbursement challenges resulting from the transition to value-based care, and helping providers navigate the opioid crisis. It’s an exciting time to help clients bring new and better care to patients.

What is the biggest opportunity and the greatest challenge facing clients in your area of focus today?

The challenge and the opportunity are closely related. Many clients are seeking to maximize opportunities within today’s rapidly evolving regulatory and reimbursement climate. Current health care policy is highly focused on delivering better care to more people at a lower cost. Our clients are looking for opportunities to deliver on that challenge. That can include collaborating with partners from outside the health care industry such as technology companies or retail companies. It can be challenging to navigate the regulatory requirements around those collaborations, but it is very rewarding when you see them come to life.

Who is your favorite health care leader or influencer to read, watch or follow, and why?

I keep up-to-date with industry and policy developments through government websites and various daily health care publications. While I do not have a single favorite source, I pay particular attention to any article that one of my colleagues calls out as interesting—which happens about once a day. We enjoy sharing through client alerts, special reports, blogs, webinars and conferences.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date?

That’s a tough one, but I would say it was the day that an associate whom I had mentored since she was in law school became a partner. I had worked with her extensively on her writing. At one point, I had her give me every single thing that she wrote for an entire month, edited it and gave it back to her. She wanted to improve and was willing to work hard. To this day, my favorite part of the job is helping more junior lawyers identify and follow a path to success – which means different things for different people.

Do you focus on any volunteer or pro bono work?

I take huge pleasure in doing a wide variety of pro bono work. I enjoy seeing entirely new areas of law while also making a concrete difference in our clients’ lives. It is great getting to collaborate on pro bono matters with colleagues across the Firm whom I might not otherwise know well. I have helped clients with adoptions, disability compensation, immigrant visa applications and prisoner clemency petitions, to name just a few favorite projects.

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