Podcast: Alumni @ RopesTalk: Conversation with Erin Abood, Stanford University

Time to Pay attention: 19:17


Well being Care

In the newest installment of Ropes & Gray’s Alumni @ RopesTalk podcast, well being treatment lover Ben Wilson interviews Erin Abood, senior university counsel at Stanford University. Erin was a wellness treatment affiliate at Ropes & Grey for 5 yrs before joining the in-dwelling team at Stanford in 2010. Her exercise focuses on electronic overall health, global medication, fraud and abuse, and privateness concerns for Stanford Drugs. In this interview, Erin discusses her transition from Significant Regulation to a small in-house workforce, what her crew at Stanford values most about exterior counsel, how her secondment to Stanford though even now an associate assisted sleek the path for her, and the phenomenal education she received at Ropes & Grey that she feels was crucial to her advancement as a law firm. She also reflects on the dramatic shift to electronic wellbeing all through the pandemic, and offers advice to associates who are thinking about an in-household shift.


Ben Wilson: Erin, welcome and many thanks for becoming a member of us now. Let’s commence with your path publish-Ropes. I know you practiced for 5 years in the wellbeing treatment team in our San Francisco office environment prior to pivoting to your present-day in-house function at Stanford. That must’ve been a enormous change for you. What was most hard? What was most fulfilling about the changeover?
Erin AboodErin Abood: It was a massive adjust in some strategies, but also quite acquainted. I experienced the fantastic fortune through my time at Ropes to function thoroughly with Stanford. In simple fact, I experienced been seconded to Stanford as a young associate to fill in for an in-house counsel’s maternity depart. I ongoing to then operate with Stanford all of the time that I was at Ropes. I had labored thoroughly with other academic clinical facilities here in California by means of Ropes, and so it was the two unique and the very same. At Ropes & Gray, you have just a phenomenal health care team from the associates correct up through the partners, and outstanding support at all stages. When you appear in-house—and at that time it was to a pretty modest group of in-residence attorneys—you’re seriously doing the job substantially far more independently, and I think a single of the most extraordinary changes is you might be operating to just get the enterprise initiatives done. We really don’t get to generate memos or consider about the very best way to do some thing sometimes—we just need to get it finished. So, it is really extremely distinct in that regard, but it was a enjoyable changeover. I imagine the two Ropes & Grey and Stanford have been phenomenal encounters. I won’t be able to think about acquiring arrive in-property devoid of owning experienced the outstanding schooling I had at Ropes—I consider I would’ve been really dropped.

Ben Wilson: What does your position appear like on a day-to-working day basis?

Erin Abood: That is transformed rather considerably due to the fact the onset of the pandemic, mainly simply because I am liable for all the electronic wellness advice that we give to Stanford Medicine. As you can consider on working day 1 of the shutdown right here in California, and we preceded the relaxation of the nation, we did a spectacular shift to electronic health and fitness and having our ambulatory visits at the hospitals and turning them into telehealth visits from just about none to 70-80%. That was a great lift for all of our operational groups as effectively as for authorized to roll out. I assume I have 15 iterations of guidance that I have presented more than the very last a few many years about what we can do, what we are unable to do, and it proceeds to evolve.

A person of the starkest distinctions between your daily life as an affiliate at a law agency and in-house listed here is that we are very flat in phrases of framework. There’s no just one below you and no one particular higher than you, and so we do all the things right here. We give the most higher-degree legal guidance—spending lots of hours on the phone—but at the exact same time, I can do the most very simple and primary agreements that you would ordinarily transform to a younger affiliate to do mainly because we just are not staffed with all of the degrees and staff to do that, and so we turn out to be these terrific generalists. We do attempt and focus, in individual, spots among our crew below so that we can each individual establish some expertise in pick areas—but at the exact same time, we consider all the things and everything that arrives in, and it definitely operates the gamut. It really is a very diverse day than you may well uncover at the regulation business, exactly where you may possibly be concentrating on a handful of select matters and truly diving in in-depth, and offering that very complete guidance to your clientele.

Ben Wilson: Now that we are with any luck , achieving the tail conclude of the pandemic, do you feel telehealth is something you happen to be going to keep on looking at and will be a side of the in-dwelling wellbeing care lawyer’s job?

Erin Abood: Certainly, surely listed here in Silicon Valley, we foresee that it is in this article to stay. We have watched our numbers definitely skyrocket in March, the original month of the pandemic, and then they have appear down, and we see them fluctuate a very little bit with waves. But we look to be plateauing listed here, and I assume we can anticipate that likely ahead, a certain percentage of our visits will be by using telehealth. Of program, for tutorial health-related centers like Stanford and several of our peer establishments, it really is extremely difficult for each vendors and patients that we now have the technological know-how to see individuals anyplace. For AMCs—particularly AMCs listed here, West of the Mississippi—we could be the only company for quite a few hundreds of miles or for numerous states with a specific know-how. Nevertheless, the rules haven’t adjusted, mostly, that would allow us to see sufferers wherever. We’re still extremely a great deal stymied by point out licensure guidelines, which is a thing we discuss right here consistently. It is anything that I go over with my friends at other AMCs, and a thing that our medical professionals just pull their hair out about, because they want to do what’s ideal for their individuals. Suitable now, state legislation is not allowing for that to transpire, so it is a discouraging time. We are all trying to determine out, “How do we go ahead?” We will see. 

Ben Wilson: I consider you happen to be regularly striving to obtain answers to issues you did not even know would exist 5 or 10 several years in the past.

Erin Abood: Yes, it really is a consistently evolving follow, and just staying up-to-date is difficult. I think at the regulation business, you do a a lot superior occupation of that. You can carve out the time, or you have a selected affiliate that may possibly generate an update on specific issues. You’ve got acquired companions who are just to-the-moment ready to go with sure info. Here, we are generally so busy—it’s truly challenging to remain up-to-date, so we take pleasure in quite much our law organization companions and the updates we receive.

Ben Wilson: Do you have any other assistance for outside counsel who are seeking to get the job done with you—things that they can do assistance lover in that way? You described encouraging remain up-to-date.

Erin Abood: Yes, I believe those updates are phenomenal. In my time at Stanford due to the fact I still left Ropes, I think our personal practice has progressed, and our use of outside the house counsel has developed. We attempt and reserve our use of outside counsel for that expertise that you may possibly have that we don’t have, somewhat than for just obtaining work accomplished. We are naturally very price tag sensitive—we’re universities, and our budgets are tight—and so we truly attempt and be even handed in our use of outside the house counsel. In our spouse law companies, we consider and hold a truly excellent take care of on who’s really the professional in one thing. I think information to outdoors counsel is when you happen to be working with AMCs, naturally be cognizant of the point that we do glance at expenditures intently, and it could affect how you want to team a make a difference. If we’re coming to you, unquestionably below at Stanford, we are coming to you because you have some expertise that we will not have, and we are not just looking for somebody to churn out some perform for us.

When I 1st was very first seconded listed here just about 20 many years in the past, we were a ground of one particular. Now, we really exceed two floors of lawyers, just to give you a feeling of how we have staffed up. I feel that thus lowers our require to just transform to a law business to help us get contracts out the door, but it absolutely will not reduce our need for that truly advanced lawful assistance and opinions, and you men can be terrific considered companions. One factor we price is “What are other individuals undertaking?” I imagine methods like Ropes & Gray have a excellent manage on what other AMCs are carrying out. If we are interested in going that course, what would it consider? It truly is that imagined partnership that we seriously value.

Ben Wilson: In addition to your secondment and your perform with Stanford even though at Ropes, have been there other ordeals at the company or unique regions of exposure that you identified particularly handy as you moved into the in-property function?

Erin Abood: The schooling I acquired at Ropes was important to my progress as a lawyer. The tolerance and the brilliance of the Ropes partners in teaching me and my former course at Ropes was just phenomenal. I experienced the remarkable privilege of operating quite intently for Nancy Forbes, who has due to the fact passed absent. I recall just sitting down and listening to her brainstorm challenges. At Ropes, not only did you understand how to tactic matters, how to problem location, how to turn out a great agreement, how to handle by a deal if it could go into the late hours of the evening, or how to prioritize—so considerably there—but also how to talk. I recall listening to Nancy, pondering, “I never know that I will ever be 50 % the communicator that she is, but probably some day I will be component of the way there.” It is really phenomenal teaching across the spectrum at Ropes. It is hard to place into words and phrases, but it genuinely was amazing. Not to mention, also your peers—Ropes is ready to recruit these types of phenomenal associates so that you happen to be not only finding out from the associates that are schooling you so properly, but also your friends. It really is a seriously wonderful group.

Ben Wilson: Do you have any suggestions for men and women who may be considering a move in-house—things that they really should be aware of or ordeals they should seek out? 

Erin Abood: I consider finding the broadest working experience probable, since despite the fact that of study course we grow to be experts in certain regions, I think in most institutions, and absolutely here at Stanford, you do need to be a generalist. I was certainly no privateness skilled at Ropes. I’m more and more needing to dive in for the reason that all the things you do entails so numerous distinctive challenges. I believe the very best tips I would have to any affiliate is to be open up to all kinds of get the job done across the spectrum, to get the broadest base that you can and as a lot exposure as achievable to so several distinct issues, so you can at least challenge place and have a perception of what you really don’t know and when to go get much more assistance from another person who does, for the reason that we deal with so numerous diverse challenges. It can be wild.

Ben Wilson: Specifically as items alter, new regulations are coming out consistently, new areas of the industry are seriously using off now—telehealth and wellness technologies, in general—what are some of your go-to resources for information as you happen to be hunting to get up to pace and keep up to speed on these merchandise?

Erin Abood: I never know that it is really that distinct from staying at a legislation business. I do each and every the moment in a whilst dig into the commentary and the regs—we love to avail ourselves of law firm memos that appear out when new changes pop up—but also substantially more collaborative in-residence, even outdoors of the authorized business office. I discover notably given that the pandemic, and as we go into all these electronic wellness initiatives, I perform a lot more closely with my colleagues in threat and in privacy than I did absolutely 10 decades in the past, in which it made use of to be you possibly experienced the authorized get the job done, privateness work or malpractice work. Now, we are faced with this sort of novel new directions, pilots and technologies that I find it always need to be a substantially a lot more collaborative assumed method. As we weigh out hazards and benefits, so typically we’re dealing with quite grey parts now and not seeking to operate afoul of the regulations, but also not seeking to stymie innovation, and so just hoping to believe as a result of the unique issues and exactly where our possibility lies. I uncover that as typically as I communicate with my own colleagues within our standard counsel’s business, I’m also collaborating with my colleagues at the medical center, who oversee privacy and possibility.

Ben Wilson: I preferred to inquire: Any beloved Ropes reminiscences from your time right here? Did you carry the previous affected individual-treatment beeper at any time?

Erin Abood: I undoubtedly did not have a affected person-care beeper. I would not say the several hours ended up any even worse than they are in-house, for the reason that I will by no means stop to be astonished that our senior management will respond at 11:00 at evening to anything you deliver out. I feel my fondest recollections are seriously the people. Ropes is such a collegial surroundings of staff users who are supporting every other at all stages. As I feel I described in advance of, not only are the companions the most phenomenal teachers, but my individual affiliate course was an excellent group of individuals. Ropes really set in a great deal of work to convey us collectively. I was dependent in San Francisco, but I experienced the chance, no matter whether it was flying out for the ball or for many overall health care gatherings, to definitely get to know the greater wellness care group, which capabilities as a person team, and to get to know my classmates in that wellbeing care group very well—that I seem back again on as really some of the greatest pieces of being at the firm.