AHLA's Speaking of Health Law

Career Journeys of Women in Health Law: Catherine Hanaway, Chair of Husch Blackwell

March 16, 2022 AHLA Podcasts
AHLA's Speaking of Health Law
Career Journeys of Women in Health Law: Catherine Hanaway, Chair of Husch Blackwell
Show Notes Transcript

In honor of International Women’s Day, AHLA’s Women’s Leadership Council is pleased to present this three-part series highlighting the career journeys of female leaders in health law. In the second episode, Jennifer Cottrell, COO/CFO, Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting, speaks with Catherine Hanaway, Chair of national law firm Husch Blackwell. Catherine has represented clients from across the health care industry. She also spent much of her career in public service, first as a member of Missouri’s House of Representatives, where she became the first female Speaker, and then as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. Sponsored by Pinnacle.

Speaker 1:

Support for ALA comes from pinnacle healthcare consulting. Pinnacle works with hospitals, health systems, a surgery centers, physician groups, law firms, and other healthcare organizations. Their team consists of experts in the area of compliance, audit, and risk mitigation, medical, coding, compensation, and business valuation strategy and operations consulting and transaction support. Learn more about pinnacle@wphc.com .

Speaker 2:

Hello, I'm Jennifer KARE , CFO, and COO of pinnacle healthcare consulting. This podcast is a second in a series of three episodes exploring the career journeys of women leaders in the healthcare industry. We'll discuss their career trajectories lessons, learn and advice for women leaders. This podcast is brought to you by the a H L a women's leadership council, which promotes the engagement of women, a H L a members and supports and advocates for career advancement and representation of women and healthcare leadership positions. The council is com the 15 , a H L a members from diverse practice area, geography and expertise. The council provides a forum for networking advice and mentorship and coordinates and develops educational content of interest to a H L a women members. This podcast series was planned in celebration of international women's day, Tuesday, March 8th , and is proudly sponsored by pinnacle healthcare consulting. Today, I'll be speaking with Catherine Hanaway chair of the national law firm. Hush Blackwell, hush Blackwell is recognized as one of the top 100 law firms in the United States. Catherine and her firm have represented clients from across the healthcare industry for many years. In addition to an outstanding career in private practice, Catherine spent much of her career journey and public service first as a member of the Missouri's house of representatives, where she rose to become the first female speaker of the house and the , and then as the us attorney for the Eastern district of Missouri. Welcome Catherine , thanks so much, Jennifer. It's really a pleasure to be on with you and , uh , really appreciate that a L a is devoting this much time to celebrating women's day. Yes, I agree. So why don't we start by , uh , why don't you just tell me a little bit about yourself? So , uh, you did a great job of summarizing most of the highlights in the bio. Um, it really is a privilege to serve as the chair of hush Blackwell, which I'm just coming up on a gear in that role. Um, April 1st will be my one year anniversary, and it is such a privilege to lead a firm that has gone so broad and so deep in its healthcare specialization. And we are now literally coast to coast. We opened offices in Oakland, Los Angeles and Boston last year. Um , we have grown through not only all the traditional ways organically, but through some key combinations. And , uh, a lot of your listeners may be familiar with , uh , the hospice practice that , uh, is centered in and Madison, Wisconsin, and led by Meg Karski , who does her own podcast, which is very popular. Um, so those, those strategic combinations in relationships with companies like yours at , at , at pinnacle, Jennifer have been just critical, not only to growing headcount, but to growing the breadth of expertise at the firm. Excellent. Tell, tell us about your career path. What, what led you to your current role as chair? Well, I, I , it's the least likely career path ever. Like, I , I , I can't really encourage anyone to try and follow it. I started at a big firm. I thought I was gonna be a securities lawyer. Huh . And then I volunteered , uh, for, or a guy named Senator kit Bon just cuz I believed him in him in my free time. He hired me for his staff and it was a great opportunity to get exposed from a policy perspective to a whole lot of issues that have persisted to this day in healthcare . I went to work for him. Right, right . After the Clinton, well bill Clinton was elected president and bill and Hillary were working very hard to bring healthcare reform , um, and health universal health insurance to the United States. So I was very much in that dialogue as a , as staff member for Senator bond, he and another Senator actually had an alternative to the Clinton plan. That was an individual mandate. So really a precursor of what we saw in, in the affordable care act. Um , they also were sort of leaning into electronic medical records in a way that, you know, was at least a decade before its time. It was , it was really great to see how policy could shape what's gonna happen out in the industry from there. Um , I had my own career as , um , elected official and then , um , the president appointed after I was the speaker of the Missouri house, the president appointed me to be the United States attorney. And as I'm sure your listeners know, that means I was the chief federal law enforcement official for half of the state. Um, had both, a lot of people think, oh, us attorney's office, just criminal matters actually, you know, a very significant proportion of the office is civil matters, including false claims act cases, lots of key tabs. Um, and if I could share one sort of insight with your listeners that I, at least my clients underappreciate is how much total discretion the assistant us attorney have in making decisions about whether they are going to intervene in a Keyt case or whether they're going to try to resolve something civilly or bring criminal charges. You know, we all kind of focus on judges and hearings and rulings that first absolutely essential decision gets made by an individual, a USA in most cases, assistant us attorney and they have complete discretion. So having a conversation, having a relationship there is just critically important. So you roll all those leadership experiences up leading lawyers, leading politicians. And I think that my partners are at the firm said, well, if she can hurt those cats in the Missouri general assembly, maybe she's a good fit for this job. I love it. Uh , any valuable pieces of advice, a piece advice, a pieces of advice , um , that you received in your career that you'd like to share with our audience today? Well, you know, I , I , some of mine would be some of the ones that I think everybody shares, which is find a great mentor. And, and for me, mine was Senator kit bond who , um , it , it seems like , uh , an archaic figure, you know, the , because he was a moderate and didn't swing too far and like he, there's no way he could get elected today. It's just like inconceivable. Um, but , uh, he was an excellent role model in a lot of ways. Number one, he promoted a lot of women. Oh , his , his state director, his chief of staff were both women. Um, he , and , and, you know, we're talking about in the nineties, so, you know, a little ahead of where other people were. So that was great for me to see all the opportunities that were being provided to women. And he had such a hard line on ethical issues. And given what my practice personal practice is now, you know, I do internal investigations, compliance and white collar defense. I mean, what we're trying to advise our clients about all the time is how to, you know, build an ethical culture that you're never gonna be able to write rules, to cover every infraction that might be, you know, your employee might engage in. So what you have to do, not only from tone at the top, but the culture you create should be do the right thing always. Right. And , and that is the thing that is most likely to help you avoid problems. And I really learned that from him. So pick a good mentor , a piece of advice I'd give, and here is a very non PC piece of advice that is much more personal take the right partner in life. I love that know you are gonna spend a lot of time with this person. You're gonna go through a lot of phases and take your time and pick somebody that, you know, can really partner with you throughout your life. It's a , it's amazing how your , your life partner becomes almost like your advisory board. Right. And how you, I mean , you , it's amazing how much you share. Right. And , and you do you want that , uh, uh, you want that non colorful , um , response back. And so, yeah, I , I love those great pieces of advice. Um, and , and how wonderful that you had a mentor , um , that , that gave you , um , various pieces of throughout your career as well . Um , any I experience that has impact impacted your career or lesson that you learned ? So I lost more than a couple of elections. Well , I actually lost, I lost two elections. I ran in 2004 for secretary of state and lost, and I ran in 2016 for governor and lost, particularly the second, the , the , the governor's race lost was , uh , I learned an awful lot , uh , from that , um, it was devastating. I mean, I'll just be entirely candid. It probably took me a couple of years to get over it. And in fact, yesterday on my iPhone , uh , a photo popped up, you know, it was one of those anniversary photos and it kind of , you know , it was me with a group of campaign volunteers and it was like, oh, but if I, if there's the lesson that I took from all those experiences, and by the way, you know, until 2016, for the most part, my life had been devoted to public service. And so like, I was like, what do I do now? Like, holy moly , this is what I've been building towards. Right. Right. And , and what I've learned is life is long and complicated. Um, and you don't know what's around the corner. My life today. I have to say, I'm happier. I love my job. Um, it's more fulfill than I could have ever imagined. I have such remarkable partners who inspire me every single day to wanna go like, do more and, you know, expand what we're able to do for our clients. And it really is what the clients , dude , that is the most inspirational, like, right. We're doing the legal work, they're curing diseases. They're researching new cures. They're in the , you know, hospitals day in, day out providing for people. Um, our son has a very low level job in a hospital. He has to come clock in at 6:00 AM every day . He sterilizes instruments for the operating room. He's only 19, but it's so inspiring to me that this 19 it's critical. Yeah . You know, through the pandemic is showing up at 6:00 AM every morning and just working away. And he's just this little sliver of these massive operation. Our clients are running day in, day out, really taking care of us. Yes. It's interesting. Those , uh , you mentioned, you know, how devastating it was and I, I I'm sure so many in our audience can reflect on , um, challenges throughout their career. Right. And how, how in impactful it is , um, mentally. Right. And then, and physically like you feel it and yet how it turns into an opportunity, you know, I just loved how you shared that life is long and it's complicated, but it's, I mean, all the greatness that, that came that, you know, you have you have today. So thank you for, for sharing that , um , experience . Um, you mentioned a little bit about your, you know, development , um, throughout your career. How, how would you describe yourself as a leader? I think having held elected office and run for elected office, I try to be a consensus builder because you, I had to go win hearts and minds, same thing in my legal practice. I mean, even though it's white collar defense investigations and compliance, I'm having to win either juries, you know, cause at core I'm a litigator or oftentimes I'm having to sort of win over the leadership of either a board or our clients to adopt some new and sometimes expensive measures related to compliance. Or I'm having to persuade a , a , a us attorney's office , uh , attorney to General's office to make the right, you know, decision for our clients. So I spend a lot of time trying to persuade people. And so that's, that's my, my leadership style as well is to try and persuade my colleagues that, you know, sort of, we have the right vision. I think the hardest thing for me as a leader that, or the thing that I think about the most is, you know, we just have phenomenally talented people. Like I'm not nearly as smart as my partners. I'm just telling you , um, they are incredibly talented. And the most important thing is that they stay motivated and inspired and go out there. I say like, it it's like an aircraft carrier. And like, maybe I'm up in the like, you know, CENTCOM central command, they're the fighter pilots taking off the deck and going there and dealing with our clients and fly in those missions and then coming back and landing. So, you know, as a leader, I gotta make sure that once they land, they have housing and food and their planes are repaired. Like we, we have to take care of them . So, right . It's, it's a consensus builder, servant leadership kind of style . I love how you said, though, you brought up, you know, building an ethical culture. You mentioned that before and doing the right thing all the time. And I can imagine you , you know, you giving that speech to your team and, and persuading them, but it's, again, it's persuading them with that, do the right thing all the time . And so I , I love that , um, how it's , how it's completely tying together. Um, tell me about soft skills. What kind of soft skills do you feel are important for leaders? Well, your , your , your listeners can't see me, but I have been told that I have sort of a resting, let's say witch kind of facade. And so when I start to talk to them and I have a sense of humor and that , that sort of changes the channel. I , I , I think the quality that I'm trying to describe the soft skill is to let yourself come through a little bit. It's really important to let the people that you're trying to lead. You need to really sort of be in , this is a very religious term, but it really fits here. You need to be in communion with, with the people that you're, you're trying to lead. So they need to know you and you need to know that up . You gotta slow down enough. Like, you know, if you get to a big leadership role, you're a hard charger. You've been working really hard for a long time, but you have to slow down enough to really get to know the people that you can't do it all right. As a leader, you're trying to fire others to be great. And , um, unless you genuinely care about them, like not just doing it for show , um, it's pretty tough for them to care enough, to like, don't wanna be great for you in your organization. Hmm . It is , it , it such a great , um, such a great picture you've created in my mind in terms of just slowing down, because I think sometimes we think of leaders as charging, charging, charging, just go, go, go, go, go. And it is, it's those leaders that are impactful. And I , that impact the team that they do. They slow down, they take the time to develop that relationship so that they can understand what it is that their team actually needs, what inspires them, you know, to, to do great things. And so , um, yeah, love that, you know, in terms of slowing down and , uh, you say slow down and smell the roses, but it is slowing down and getting to know people around you. And they're so awesome, by the way, in terms of what I get back as a leader, I is just, I , I do a lot of visiting our offices every time I come back and I'm like, oh my gosh, I get to work with some really, really smart, energized, cool people. And it's particularly young associates. Yes . I mean, it's a whole different world. They're bringing a whole different perspective. There's so much more sort of mission and purpose driven and , and have a broader view of the world. And it's so inspiring. So I get a lot more out of that . I call my cheerleader visits than I know the offices do. Like it'ss very edifying to me to be like, oh, and by that way, that's the only time anyone's ever referred to me as a cheerleader. But I love it is I will say, you know, I , I love, I , I love the newness and the freshness of their creativity, right. The ideas that they come up with. And, and, and I always think of, well, why not? You know, as opposed to, well, you can't if , well , why not? Why can't we do that? Um, but that creativity that's, they bring , and it , it does, it's hard because it challenges your mind, right. Challenges the way you think , um, which is good. It , you know, that is one of the things that keeps you going and keeps you driving forward. It's , uh , so interesting. Our , um, associates, you know, sort of come together in a next gen kind of organization, which lots of places have. And yet just yesterday, we were going through a number of options for retaining people for the long term , right. That ours is a talent business. Right . So we gotta retain the most talented people. And some of the things we were talking about, I mean, it , it , would've just never been talked about right . Even even five years ago, I don't think. Right. And now we're like, well, yes, that has a price tag, but it's so small compared to what it costs to go recruit and then train a new associate, you know, investing in a few things that they really care about , um, is, is a small price to pay. So they're gonna do good . I , I'm very optimistic about this generation because I think they're gonna do a lot of good in the world . I agree. And , uh, and I look at, we talk about women leaders and that's of course, a lot of our , um, audience today is , uh, you know, includes a lot of women leaders. And I think about the women today and what their opportunities are , um, compared to, you know , I mean, I think of myself where I was, you know, in my early career and what I was expected to do, and now it's what they're allowed to do, right? I mean, it's this whole , um, breadth of offerings that they can, they , they can take on the world and we look forward to it. We're excited for them to do so. I , I , I am super, I will say this in , at the risk of sounding like an old foggy , this is an issue I'm thinking about a great deal, cuz I think that frankly , um , and I'm not quite 60, I'm 58 , but I think some of the least powerful people in the world are 60 plus women, even though they're just as smart as 60 plus men and should, their careers should be just as long, they kind of get shelved in some ways that men don't , which I think I'm I'm as a leader, I see that as an opportunity. But the , but the other thing is we came up in a different way. That is part of the reason that we're being put on the shelf. Right. And that is, we had to breathe fire every day . Toughness was a characteristic that was so highly valued. You wanted to be a blank on wheels. Like , you know, that's kind of who we were enculturated to be. Right. But now that we sort of have ours and, and, and lots of women, and I would say, this is probably women 45 and up , um, they had to fight the whole time to get here. And now that they sort of, you know, their , their partners, their equity partners, they're , they're in senior leadership in companies, it's hard to turn off the fight, right? Like they're still breathing fire in every direction. Right . And we somehow have to, to help , um , like understand that it's okay. Like now is the time to be a little bit more gracious in those leadership positions to, to stop breathing, fire, to reach your arms out. You don't have to fight as hard. And that is super hard to like retrain. Right. Right. I think it's super important. I will tell you that a diversity leader that I was talking to recently told me every woman in a professional position over the age of 45 is viewed by those, you know, in that 20 to, you know, I recently out of school to 30 category. Every woman in that older category is viewed as a carrot. Like it's just an , an , they're almost viewed more negatively than men. So this , all these component parts, and you can see, I've been thinking about it way too much, but all these com opponent parts come together to the point that , um, I do think that the struggle for women is not over. That's the other thing that I've heard from some diversity professionals recently. Oh, well , you know, it's so great that women, like that's the post gender kind of time period. Well , my law school class, I graduated in 1990 was 50 50. It was the first class at my law school to be 50 50 today. As I say here at major law firms, only 24% of the equity partners are women. So we lost a whole lot of women along the way. Right. Right . Cause classes have been 50, 50 and more, I mean, some classes now are 70 30 gender isn't over like that . This is all my long way of saying there are a number of issues. They may be slightly different issues, but we don't see women, at least in our, for profession develop businesses quickly, which is what prevents them from being partners. They make some lifestyle choices, all those things , um , we need to keep working on. Yeah. Thank you, Catherine . Thank you. So switching gears through a little bit , um, what is , what's something you're proud of whether personal career , uh , what , what's something that you're proud of? Um, my family, like, you know, like it's, it's not close for me. Um, my husband has been the most incredibly supportive life partner anyone could ever imagine. And, you know, we went through a lot of years where, you know, we were just kinda like, you know, emptying out the penny jar at the end of the month. Like, you know, the Missouri general assembly is not a great place to make a lot of money. Um, well, not if you're ethical. Um, and , uh, and , and now, you know, we have a great life and our kids are 23 and 19, and I just, couldn't be more proud of them. And they're two very different kids and that's just such a, a , a fun part of life. I was just talking to another mom who is younger than me and has six kids and a demanding career. And she said, I don't remember a lot of stuff. And I'm like, you know, I , I , I remember that, that feeling like my kids say that by and large, they had a fun childhood. I don't really remember it. Yeah. Cause you're working all the time. You're , you're working all the time. You're all the time. That's so true. Yeah. So , uh , to our audience, so I have three children as well. And, and it is it of those , it , it , I , I'm fascinated by your comment of, you know, we we're turning right. And we had that fire. I mean, we were breathing, we were taught to breathe fire, fire, and now we, we should, we should take that time to slow down, right. Slow down and, and be reflective. And , um, be that I love that, you know, that persuading people to, to take the time, to understand each other and develop those relationships. And , um, and yet it's hard. It's hard because, you know, you've got these competing factors of, of family and work and life and everything else. And so, you know, how, how do we do that? I think those are questions that we continue to ask ourselves almost every day. Right. Cause it takes more time to go slow than to go fast. Right. And, and busy women ha are just accustomed. Like we're set on multitask fast. Like that's the setting. I like that. And , and , and it's hard to like reach your arms out and be , and really get to know people. I know I breathe . Right. Breathe . We're supposed to breathe . Yes. Yeah . Katherine , any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our audience today? No, just a total pleasure to be on. Really appreciate the opportunity, Jennifer, thank you for hosting and thanks to HLA for the opportunity on really flattered to be invited to do so . Thank you. It was a pleasure having, having the opportunity to speak with you today. Thank you, Kathryn . Thank you.

Speaker 1:

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