Exploring Critical Business and Legal Issues across the Healthcare and Life Sciences Industries
Exploring Critical Business and Legal Issues across the Healthcare and Life Sciences Industries

Five Questions with a Health Lawyer: Kate McDonald

By on June 11, 2019

Kate McDonald
Office: Washington, DC
Years at Firm: 6

What is your favorite part about practicing health care law at McDermott? 

The health care regulatory work we do is cutting edge. From the largest health care companies to the smallest start-ups, our clients tend to be highly sophisticated and they come to us with high stakes questions that have no easy answers. We help clients navigate a complex web of health care regulations to implement innovative business models or bend the cost curve. The work I do is intellectually challenging and I love partnering with my crazy smart colleagues to solve problems. This is what keeps me coming back to work day after day.

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

There is so much innovation occurring in the health care market today, and in particular in the managed care industry. Health insurers are partnering with an increasingly diverse set of business partners in an effort to provide higher quality care more efficiently, while actually keeping people healthier and improving their experience in the health care system – both of which inure to the benefit of both health insurers and consumers. While health care payors are at a critical intersection and have a unique opportunity to influence changes in the system, figuring out the best way to do that is also the greatest challenge for these companies. Health care is really complex – there is no magic bullet or easy solution, but I am optimistic that some of the innovations that shake out of this transformative time will have lasting and beneficial impacts.

What kind of client work gets you most excited when it comes across your desk? 

Whether it is a regulatory question or a proposed partnership, I love it when there are so many moving pieces and different relationships that I need to get out my pen and paper (or these days, my iPad) and draw a diagram to map it out. That’s when I know I’m in for a fun challenge.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date? 

I choose to look at my job as a helping profession. Every time I help a client solve a problem, make their life easier or make them look good to their own organization’s leadership, I am so proud of the work I have done. A client I respect immensely called to thank me for my work on an important matter and compared me to a senior partner at McDermott whose excellent judgment and client service is widely recognized both within and outside our Firm. This vote of confidence from a woman who is very successful within her organization and the comparison to a mentor I admire very much was probably one of the proudest moments I have had in my career to date. This will stick with me for years to come.

If you were not a lawyer, what career would you pursue?

If I could do it all over again, I would love to be an organizational psychologist, studying what makes workers more effective, productive and happy in their jobs, and helping companies to harness the full potential of their workforce. I love that this field involves both big theoretical ideas as well as practical applications.

Click here to learn more about Kate’s practice.




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