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: Nicholas Alarif

By on February 28, 2020
Posted In Fraud & Abuse

Nicholas Alarif
Office: Washington, DC
Years at Firm:  3

What is your favorite part about practicing healthcare law at McDermott? 

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the best part about practicing at McDermott is the innovative and collaborative culture. I have found that McDermott fosters a team-based approach to solving client issues. The opportunity to interact with experts in so many disciplines and sub-disciplines to achieve common goals for our clients has been fantastic. Further, I have found that my colleagues are open to new approaches to tackle client issues and are always happy to streamline internal processes. Innovation is not what you typically think of in a law firm environment, and McDermott’s embrace of change makes for an exciting and fun place to practice.

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

The biggest opportunity and greatest challenge may actually be the same—a shifting regulatory landscape. For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of Inspector General recently published proposed revisions to the physician self-referral law (Stark Law) and the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) regulations, which, among other things, are attempting to foster transitions from fee-for-service medicine to value-based care. These proposed changes will potentially allow providers broader flexibility when engaging in financial relationships with a value-based goal. The proposed changes present the industry with many new opportunities to participate in novel compensation arrangements with providers.  However, these proposed changes come with a degree of uncertainty regarding what is in and out of bounds. That is to say, what type of value-based arrangements will squarely satisfy a Stark Law exception or AKS safe-harbor and which arrangements may subject a provider to material compliance risks? These types of questions often emerge with a shifting regulatory paradigm, and dually offer stakeholders with both risk and reward.

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

I am most excited by issues that do not have a clear answer. I find exploring and explaining the gray areas to be a fun exercise that challenges my preconceived notions regarding how certain laws operate in practice. Such ambiguity often comes with the territory of being a fraud and abuse focused healthcare attorney, so I think I’m in the right discipline.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date? 

Professionally, the proudest moment of my legal career was receiving the news I was being promoted to partner here at McDermott.  As an attorney at the Department of Health and Human Services I had heard so many positive things about McDermott, and I knew it was one of the best firms for the practice of healthcare law. If you had told me five years ago that I would become a partner here, there is no way I would have believed you. Luckily, the hype I had heard surrounding the firm was real, and it’s been incredible practicing with so many talented attorneys.

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

I love being an attorney. It provides me with so much mental stimulation, and it’s incredibly rewarding for me to help clients achieve their goals. However, with February usually comes a few minutes of daydreaming, during which I head down to the Caribbean and open up a dive shop. Scuba is a favorite hobby of mine. I have had the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful dives in the world, such as Sipadan in Borneo and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It would be great to share this passion more broadly with other folks interested in exploring and admiring our world’s beautiful oceans.

Click here to learn more about Nicholas’ practice. 




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