Practice Focus Area: Hospital and Health System M&A
Office: Los Angeles
Years at Firm: Joined in May 2021
- What is your favorite part about practicing healthcare law at McDermott?
The people are my favorite part of being at McDermott. I am not just repeating some “corporate speak” I learned in orientation when I say that. Each person recognizes that we are part of the same team. Our collective success depends on our ability to meet and exceed our clients’ goals. Doing that consistently takes a selfless approach that we exemplify. As a firm, McDermott has unique capabilities across the healthcare industry, regardless of what the issue might be; we work with a commitment of being prepared to assist one another whenever necessary to bring that collective experience to bear on a unique transaction question or regulatory issue. I think that shared philosophy distinguishes us from many of our peers.
- What is the biggest opportunity and greatest challenge facing clients in your area of focus today?
Hospitals now face more scrutiny than ever over the mergers, acquisitions and affiliations they pursue with other hospitals and healthcare providers. This scrutiny is coming from an increasing number of state and federal regulators, news media and others who may not necessarily have the hospitals’ best interests at heart. At the same time, many hospitals and other healthcare providers are struggling to survive in the wake of COVID-19 and continuing reimbursement cuts. These two forces have created an environment where pursuing a merger or acquisition may be necessary to protect the availability of healthcare within a community, but more difficult to complete because of this heightened scrutiny. Hospitals and health systems that think strategically with counsel are better poised to navigate these challenges, complete these vital transactions and serve their communities more fully.
- What kind of client work gets you most excited when it comes across your desk?
I like the odds being stacked against me. Helping clients pull off the seemingly impossible drives me. That might mean inking a deal to acquire a hospital within two weeks, helping a health system navigate a thorny compliance issue or finding leverage in negotiations when none seemingly exists. Opportunities like these allow me to be my clients’ trusted advisor, not just their outside counsel. These circumstances aren’t for everyone, but I thrive on them. They can make life a little chaotic, but chaos creates opportunity.
- What is the proudest moment of your career to date?
My proudest moment came early in my career when I developed a legal theory for a county board of commissioners to prevent the closure of a local hospital. The county filed for a restraining order based on my theory, which a federal judge granted. The delay created enough time for the hospital’s sale to a third party. Stepping into those circumstances – where only a slim hope of success existed – made me realize the positive impact attorneys can have for their clients. The experience also led to another engagement where I used my healthcare regulatory background to help counties challenge the state’s use of federal welfare funding. The case made it all the way to the state supreme court, and even though we lost on appeal, the litigation ultimately produced legislative changes. I credit these experiences with shaping the philosophy I use today with clients: We will find a way.
- What is your favorite decoration in your office?
I grew up in Shattuck, Oklahoma, a town of about 1,200 people in western Oklahoma. My dad was our county judge for more than 20 years. Before that, when I was in high school, he was the county prosecutor. His job certainly didn’t help my popularity at school very much. When Dad retired in 2014, he sent me a copy of the local newspaper – the Ellis County Capital – that had a picture of him accepting an award for his years of service to our county. I keep that newspaper on my desk; it reminds me of where I’m from and why I am an attorney.