AHLA's Speaking of Health Law

Career Journeys in Health Law: Insights from Three South Asian Attorneys

June 03, 2022 AHLA Podcasts
AHLA's Speaking of Health Law
Career Journeys in Health Law: Insights from Three South Asian Attorneys
Show Notes Transcript

Aastha Madaan Farr, Senior Legal Counsel, SCAN Health Plan, speaks to three South Asian health care attorneys about their career journeys, the status of South Asians in the legal profession, and the advice they would give to students or early career attorneys interested in entering the health law field. Aastha’s guests are Manasa Gopal, Associate General Counsel, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Alaap Shah, Partner, Epstein Becker and Green, and Kavitha Babu, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois. Provided in collaboration with the South Asian Bar Association of North America.

To learn more about AHLA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit americanhealthlaw.org.

Speaker 1:

This episode of ALA speaking of health law is brought to you by HLA members and donors like you for more information, visit American health law.org .

Speaker 2:

Welcome, and thank you for joining us. This episode is being presented by a H a in conjunction with the south Asian bar association of north America. My name is Don far , and I'm your moderator for today's episode. I'm senior legal counsel at scan health plan in California. And I also serve as the vice president of programming for the south Asian bar association. Today, we have three stellar, south Asian speakers from diverse career backgrounds within health law. Joining us, our goal is to hear about their career journeys and their experiences as south Asian lawyers in the field of health law. I will give very, very brief introductions, but we'll save the detailed introductions for the panelists themselves. Our first speaker is going to be Monsa Gopal who serves as the associate general counsel for Columbia university Irving medical center. The next speaker is AAP sh he's a partner and co-chair of Epstein Becker's and Green's privacy cybersecurity and data asset management team. And lastly, we have Kaita Babu , who is an assistant us attorney for the Northern district of Illinois, and currently serves as an acting deputy chief. So I'd like to turn it over to our speakers. If you can share a little bit more detail about your current roles , as well as , um , say your names as you're introducing yourselves, that would be great.

Speaker 3:

Thanks ASA . Um , this ISPA mentioned, I serve as associate general counsel for Columbia university in particular, I support the university's medical center and handle almost all matters that affect it, not only as a medical entity, but as a nonprofit corporation, as well as a teaching and research institution. Uh , in terms of my day to day , I do a lot of contracting and transactional work attend , um , crossfunctional meetings , both within Columbia and , um , meetings outside of Columbia . And , uh , the best part of my job is partnering with my clients to meet , uh , their legal and business needs .

Speaker 2:

Great . A lot . Would you mind sharing a little bit more about yourself?

Speaker 4:

Sure. Thank a thanks ATA . And , um, first I just wanna say thanks to SBA and HLA for me on the podcast. This is a , a very cool opportunity. Um, so as ASTA said, my name is AAP SHA . I'm a partner at the firm Epstein, Becker and green in their DC office . And , uh , my practice really focuses on providing both proactive and reactive support to clients, both large and small emerging through well-established , um , relative to their legal regulatory compliance, contracting, transactional and dispute resolution needs. So on the proactive side of things, I , I tend to work with companies looking to launch new and innovative technologies and business models. So I spend a lot of time whiteboarding with clients and strategizing with them about regulatory pathways that would allow them to develop whatever they're trying to develop and , and market it. Uh , this could be digital health apps, telehealth, artificial intelligence, big data or data governance types of matters. Um, I love this work. It I'm a creative person and I love to, to create so , um, it's right up my alley. Um, on the reactive side, you know, clients have crises they have to go through and I'm, I'm there to support for , for those scenarios as well. And that could be like a data breach response issue like ransomware or cyber attacks. It could be government investigations or litigation as well . So when the clients have rainy days , um , I , and my practice are there for them as well. So that's me in a nutshell.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. That was a great introduction KTA here next.

Speaker 5:

Sure. Um, I , um , my name's KTA Babu . I am as ASTA , as you mentioned, I'm a USA or an assistant us attorney in Chicago, which is the Northern district of Illinois. I'm currently a deputy chief in the general crime section, but , um, also am in the healthcare fraud section in the financial crimes unit of the us attorney's office. I'm a criminal pro criminal federal prosecutor. I'm excited to be here today with , um , Manassa and with <inaudible> and with Yuasa .

Speaker 2:

Thank you. And thank you to all three of you. You're making time for us today and for ALA . So next I'd like to ask a little bit about your backgrounds, your journeys, and specifically how you got to your current roles and what you're doing today. Um, let's start with a lot for this one.

Speaker 4:

Sure. Um, <laugh> my journey is probably it started in a similar place to many south Asians, I believe. Um, as a first generation American of Indian heritage, my parents, like many of, many of yours perhaps encouraged me to be a doctor. Uh , so I started off focusing on hard sciences and healthcare for much of my academic career. Uh , in undergrad, I actually got a biochemistry degree, but I realized pretty early on that medicine was not my thing. So I ended up minor minoring in philosophy and also gravitating towards humanities and health policy types of things. So after undergrad, I did cancer research for several years at Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer center , um, pursued a master's in public health at Columbia and , and focused on health policy and management again. So healthcare is sort of the similar theme throughout , uh, when I got that degree, I also sort of concurrently said, well, if I'm gonna do health policy, I should probably get a legal degree. So I ended up going to law school at the university of Maryland because they have a pretty killer health law certificate program. Um, and then after graduating law school, I continued the trend. I stayed in healthcare . I joined Epstein Becker and helped create and launch the practice group. I currently co-chair. Um, after several years there, I actually got recruited to go in house to the American society of clinical oncology to lead a team, to, to develop a new technology called cancer link . And so after a few years working there as senior council and chief privacy and security officer, we essentially took a , what was essentially a co concept and a PowerPoint slide and turned it into a real business. Uh , I helped architect to compliant technology platform helped contract , uh , with oncology practices to contribute Dave to the platform and developed a partnership that EV eventually made the program sustainable. And so we grew from about, you know, five employees to 55 and , um, you know, 14 million in revenue. And then I said, well, that was fun. What do I do next? Um, I have a long career ahead of me and I decided to go right back to Epstein, Becker and , um , take the , the reins of that practice group that I helped develop early on. So, you know , healthcare throughout , um, but you know, a little bit of a windy path.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, Kota . How about you?

Speaker 5:

Um , I , I have a little bit different of a past than a lot, and I know , um, we've talked before with Monica and I don't, I was not, I sort of fell into health law , I think more so than , um, the both of them. I think they were both very , um, specific about their, their path into health law. And whereas I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and sort of, I , once I became a lawyer fell into health law, I started , um, at a law firm, a large law firm in DC, right out of law school, and primarily to just pay off law school loans. And while I was there had the good fortune of working in the white collar group with , um , some former AUSAs and former federal federal prosecutors and did a lot of white collar criminal defense work. And part of that work was of individual physicians who were charged with healthcare fraud crimes. And so that was my first foray into healthcare fraud work from there, from the law firm. I then moved to main justice and worked at the civil fraud section . Uh , so the civil division fraud section where I did civil litigation, but primarily under the false claims act. So it was a lot of healthcare fraud, some government contracts fraud. So everything from stark anti kickback , um, there was a little bit of, there was, it really was sort of focused on whatever DOJs focus was at the time I was there from about 2010 to 2016 , I think, or 2000, yeah, about 2016 . So there was a lot of home health work . Um, it was really sort of specific as to the, the agencies focus at the time. And then from civil frauds, I then moved over to the criminal side and which is I'm now on the criminal prosecution side and do criminal prosecutions of individual physicians, corporations in all sorts of spheres. Um, my practice as a criminal prosecutor has really varied and I do everything from re to murder to narcotics, but part of that is also healthcare fraud. Um, so it's been sort of a windy pass , but healthcare has been a common denominator throughout.

Speaker 3:

Those are really impressive career paths, a lot INTA . Um , as for me, I, at the beginning, at least I wasn't quite as sure what I wanted to do. I knew that it was always going to involve healthcare in some capacity. So I took a little bit of time off between undergrad and grad school. And I actually worked for , um, county health departments in between these jobs were amazing because they gave me a sense of how the medical field social services and the legal system can work together . Um , and they also gave me a much better understanding of how the healthcare system is set up . Then I was lucky enough to go to the university of Houston, which has one of the nation's leading health law programs. Um, after graduation, I started my legal professional journey in private practice. Um, there I worked in healthcare matters, but I also did a lot of general corporate work and looking back, I think that experience was invaluable because healthcare has a lot of business aspects to it. And the more you understand about corporate issues and business , I think the better you can serve your clients. Eventually I decided to go in house because I realized that while I loved working in private practice, I just wasn't able to necessarily see things all the way to the end. Um, oftentimes we were giving discrete pieces of advice to clients. Um, so the opportunity to go, in-house meant that I could see a matter all the way from the start to the very end. And , um, that was exciting for me then, and continues to be very exciting even today.

Speaker 2:

I agree with you. I think in-house is definitely a different journey. And , um , I loved hearing about , uh , all of your journeys that are so, so different and somehow still similar because y'all ended up, ended up in healthcare one way the other , um, but still in very, very diverse areas of healthcare . Um, we know that, you know, healthcare like a lot of different , uh, fields within the practice of law are only now, it's only now starting to see a surge of , uh , diverse attorneys, minority attorneys. Um, so I'm interested to hear in the last few years, you know, as each of you started your journeys as south Asian lawyers, what was your experience in healthcare specifically and what were some issues that came up and, you know , um, maybe what you learned from, from your experiences specifically as a south Asian lawyer in healthcare , uh , let's start with COTA for this one.

Speaker 5:

Sure. Um, and for me, I don't know that it was specific to my work in healthcare , but I think one of the, the things that really in preparing for this podcast and having our, our previous chat with , um , Madison and AAP , I think one of the things that sort of stuck out to me was how, when coming up as a lawyer and coming up in healthcare law and, and criminal work, it was not seeing as many people who had done this before and having those people to turn to. And I know we're gonna talk about mentorship at a later point in this conversation, but I think that was , um, the thing that struck me most about being a south Asian in this world , um, in, in healthcare law , um, and in criminal law, it, it was not having someone who's forged that pass before us. So it was kind of having to do it for the first time or do it soon after someone had just done it. So there are definitely criminal prosecutors, federal criminal prosecutors and healthcare lawyers who are more experienced than me. Um, but they're also fairly recent in their experience. And so I think given that the south Asian community is a fairly new immigrant population to the United States. So since probably the sixties and seventies , um, and most other, I think even east Asian populations have been here longer. And so when you look at the other bar associations, they're their bent . So to speak of lawyers that they can turn to, to be mentors is just deeper , um , because they've been here longer. So it , that I think was the thing that sort of struck me the most. And so you're sort of having to turn to your peers and come up and lean on each other as you sort of make your way through your careers. Um, so I think that was the, the thing that sort of stuck with me most about my experiences being a , as a health, as a south Asian lawyer , um , doing this kind of work, but , um, I'm sure , um, Monica and a lot will have other thoughts.

Speaker 3:

Thanks. Kaita um , I think that if I look looking back , I didn't have a lot of people coming up , um, that looked like me, or I didn't really have a professional network of , of folks who had shared similar experiences. So in terms of whether it's about being a lawyer or being in healthcare law specifically, I had to create my own yard stick , so to speak and really develop a set of professional standards for myself. Um, for example, I learned pretty early on that it wasn't just about learning, you know, technical lawyering skills like legal research or writing, but it was also some of the softer skills that are important , um, like how to be client facing or , um, um, you know, how to, how to take on leadership roles within your organization. Um, in terms of healthcare law specifically, I think being a south Asian actually was an advantage. Um, I think it's fair to say that all of us either have a medical professional in our family, or we know someone who's medical professional. And so I have some of the lingo and some of the jargon down already to better communicate with my clients. So I definitely see that as a plus point. Um, but you know, in terms of, of networking and , um, just being able to share experiences with others , uh , that wasn't really there early on. Um, you know , I'm, I was , uh , developing as an attorney before there was even LinkedIn . So , um, that's why I'm very grateful to organizations like a HLA and SVA for connecting me to wonderful peers in general, but also to those who can more directly relate to my personal experiences.

Speaker 4:

Yeah . So , I mean, that's a great perspective and kata , I it's funny, I starting off in my career. I, I didn't feel alone when it came to the academic portions of my career. There were a lot of south Asians , uh , largely I think because south Asians are so heavily focused on healthcare and life sciences careers. So I was, I felt like I was around people focused on medical careers or careers in big pharma or biomedical sciences or clinical research, I think increasingly now in health information technology. And so I felt like there were always people around, but they didn't understand what I did <laugh> . So when I said, oh, I'm a healthcare attorney, they would say, oh, like malpractice. And I would say, no, <laugh> , there's so much more , um , in the health law space. And so I'd have to sort of educate people. So I did feel a little bit outta place when it came to south Asian , specifically in the health law field. Um, just by way of example, when I joined my firm, I think there are maybe three, four, maybe five south Asian attorneys in the firm total. And for frame of reference, the firm at the time had about 200 5300 attorneys. So a really small percentage of, of south Asians. And there are very few, if any partners of south Asian descent. So fast forward to, to where we are now, we've been trying to recruit, you know, people of all divorce walks of life. Um <affirmative> um, but we still have, you know, have struggled with trying to get people to advance in these, in these positions. Um, now, currently at 13 years after I started my career at Epstein Becker , we have two , um, shareholders of south Asian descent. And, you know, we have probably doubled the number of south Asians in the firm. So I see that as progress. I'm , I'm pretty hopeful that with all these diversity equity and inclusion initiatives, we're gonna get more and more diversity. Um, but I think the other thing to think about is, you know , although it was difficult at first because as Cove , the cuz as kata pointed out, there was no one that forged the path before you sort of had to make it up as you went. Um, the good thing about it for me in per , in particular was I , I feel like it's become an advantage over time , um, as south Asians , uh , and other minorities start to further integrate into, to business and assume lead their leadership positions. Uh , I , I find it actually easier to make connections with, with folks , um, because , uh , we're where I think we're craving those connections , um , from the get go . And so now we're starting to have the opportunity to do this kind of stuff through organizations like Sabo or ALA or , or many others. So , um, so again, I'm , I'm hopeful that south Asians will increasingly be represented in this field over time.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a , that's a really good point a lot . I think that the DEI initiatives in the recent years has definitely started to make a little bit of dent , um, in not just healthcare, but , uh , the legal industry as a whole. So , um, I think each of you actually hinted at my next question a little bit while answering the last question, but I'd like to give a little bit of background before I dive into my next question. Uh , so I think a lot of us have heard about the model minority myth, which is that, you know, certain minorities , um, are perceived as achieving a higher degree of socioeconomic success or are perceived as being more intelligent or , um , more productive than the average population. And , uh , we have, I think each of us understands the damage that the model minority myth can do , um, within our practice outside of our practice and, you know , um , society as a whole. So, but I'd like to ask, because I think, you know, in some, some respects it does end up serving positively for us. So I'd like to ask what , um, was, was your experience colored by the model minority myth? Um, were there expectations about you that people had or things that people assumed because you were south Asian when you walk into a room, especially with your proximity to healthcare , your work ethic , things like that. Uh , let's start with MoSo for this one.

Speaker 3:

What a great question. Um, first I just wanna , you know , deviate from the question slightly to tell anyone who's considering a career path that it's okay not to have the same interest in science and math as maybe your south Asian friends or relatives might have. Um, it is very possible to find a fulfilling career outside of those subjects, which I think could be then a lot , um , can concur with me , um, in terms of the myth itself. I think that definitely going in people look at south Asians as hard workers and , um, you know, can generally be academically successful. Um, the flip side of that is I think we have to work a little harder , uh , than others possibly to show that, you know, we, we can not only master the technical skills, but , um, that we can , um, also take, you know, leadership roles and , um, uh , more front facing roles. Um, so, you know, you have that, that sort of , uh , preset notion that people may have of you, but equally important is , you know, not to sell yourself short and , um, maybe take on the model minority myth yourself , uh , in a way that could be detrimental. Uh , what do you think , uh , kata

Speaker 5:

Think you, Monica , I think you sort of hit the nail on the head. And I think when , as you were talking, I think it re it sort of crystallized for me what my issue with that, the phrase model minority myth has always been, I think it's a little bit of a MIS misnomer when you hear it, you think, oh, it's almost like a compliment. You're like, oh, you're being, you're being called the model. Like you should be what everyone strives for. But in fact, I think it's a , what it truly is when it , what it boils down to is that we will, we will do the grunt work, but don't want to be forward facing, like, you're not, we are not the people that you put in front of the clients . And so that's, it it's that you'll do the work, but you won't look for the, the credit , um, which I think is part of the detriment. And part of the reason why the model minority myths can be so , um, devastating to south Asians when they're trying to succeed their careers. Um, so I think you hit the nail like directly on the head as , as to how it sort of played into my career. I think it was twofold. Um, I think, and a lot, I'd be interested to hear sort of how this has affected you, but I think as the south Asian women, there is a added sort of piece to this, that in addition to being part, like in addition to having to deal with the model minority myth, I think of south Asian women, we also have the added sort of stereotype to deal with of that. We're gonna be more submissive or not be as aggressive or be willing to speak out and sort of having to deal with those stereotypes that are placed upon you and having to sort of break out of that, that mold. Um, for me, I think the place that that has been the most evident is probably in the, my current role as a , a criminal prosecutor. You, it , those , those two things sort of are at tension . You can't be both submissive and in the background and also be that in the courtroom , um , in front of a jury, in front of a judge making arguments and being passionate about the thing that you're talking about. So it's sort of putting yourself out there and showing that if that is in fact who you are , um, you, you can be both hardworking and forward facing . You can be the, the face of whatever the , the issue it is or whatever the, the project it is that you're working on. So I think , um, it was sort of over the course of the last many years of being a lawyer, that I was finally able to sort of put a name to what the , the issue was, and then figure out how I was gonna deal with it .

Speaker 4:

Yeah, those are really good points you raise. And , um , you know , I , I know you, you couched it at the context of being a south Asian woman , um, and having a stereotype of having to be, you know, quiet and deferential . Um, I'll say, I think that's probably true for many women, not just south Asian women, but as a south Asian man, I was raised to be deferential and quiet and not, not rock the boat as well. So that's, that was my training from , from a young age. But, you know, as you all know, to be a successful attorney, sometimes you have to do precisely the opposite, you know, which is a learned skill for a lot of us. Uh , it's, it's really easy to be quiet, but it's not always in the best interest as an attorney to do that, or certainly not in the best interest of your client if you just shrink away. So I, I totally get what you're saying. Um, you know, from my perspective , uh , I never really thought about the model minority myth as such. I think from, from my perspective, the way it played out was I think when I started my career, I actually had this sort of internal bias , um , that I overlaid, which is, I , I think we call it imposter syndrome, perhaps, you know, I , I sort of entered the field thinking, oh, you know, am I good enough? Am , am I, do I belong here? Kind of stuff, which, you know, there's when you're like one of the only people that looks like you, that has a name like yours. Uh, it's, it's hard to feel like you fit in. And so add on top of that, going into a highly competitive, you know, law law firm environment, right out of law school, getting thrown into the fire , um, with a lot of super talented, brilliant junior associates. And you're all just trying to look for ways to prove yourselves. It it's pretty daunting for, for any minority , uh , certainly for a south Asian attorney. Um, so, so I think for me, it was just about finding the path forward and getting connected with people who could really help support me , uh , over time that , um, saw me for who I was and was, was supportive of who that was and, you know, lending their expertise and experience to me in a way that , uh , resonated even if they didn't come from the same place as me. So with some grit and perseverance and , uh , finding some kind and supportive people along the way, you know, I , I finally think , uh , got over some of those insecurities. Um, I , I don't know if I really felt sort of external pressure from a model of minority myth perspective, but I certainly felt that internal pressure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a , that's a really good point a lot . I , um, and so many good points by each of you. I think, you know, we could have a , an entire podcast talking about how detrimental the model minority myth is to every minority , um , and how it pits minorities against each other in an already underrepresented profession. Um , but we'll, we'll leave it at that today and move on to our next question in the interest of time. Um, I think it, it goes , um, I think it , your point about imposter syndrome actually probably fits in to some extent with the next question too. Um, which, but we'll actually start with KTA for this one , uh , KTA , what has your experience been looking for mentors and establishing those relationships?

Speaker 5:

Yeah, I think we did talk about this a little bit before, and it , it does fit into sort of , um, all of the, the topics that we've talked about so far. It , my experience has been my, where my mentors and my sponsors in my career have been peers. I have plenty of south Asian attorneys, both in healthcare , um, and not in health law who have been my mentors and sponsors. But when you think about a mentor in the more traditional sense, like the, the experienced person who sort of guides you along the path , um, it , frankly I think most of my mentors have been white men. Um, and, and many of my more, I think the sponsors that I've had that have been the most influential in my career have been white men. And that I think frankly, I , I have been very blessed in that they have been great supporters of my career and have sought out opportunities for me and put my name forward , um , and supported me in when I've made different transitions in my career. But I think the fact that the bulk of my mentors and the people that have been in those positions have been white men, I think is a function of that's who is who that's who's successful. And that is who is there in that generation of lawyers. I think the , the generation of lawyers who are in their late fifties and sixties and are the shareholders at law firms and , um, in hold PO higher positions in government, those are they just because south Asians are not yet there that's who serves , um, as mentors and sponsors, but I think I'm hopeful that because now my peers are also serving as my mentors and my sponsors and are so influential in my career. Now that that is changing what people who are coming up behind us, the, the younger generation of lawyers, I'm hoping that they are not having that same experience , um, or at least are having a broader experience that they are now able to seek out. Um , and I hopefully are seeking out people like Monica and AAP , um, anda as to be mentors and sponsors in their careers, because now we have been around for a while . Um , as much as it pains me to say how long I've been a lawyer , um , I'm glad that we're now here and can serve in those roles for the people coming up behind us.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. I , I totally wholeheartedly agree with that kata . I mean, hopefully for those attorneys listening to this podcast who are just starting out their careers, or even who have been in their careers for a while , I mean, there are more and more south Asians and healthcare law now, so please lean on us, seek us out. So I, you know, I agree, I encourage anyone to, don't be afraid, reach out, say hi, via email or LinkedIn or whatever, just start building connections because we're out there. Um, and there's probably more of us out there than we even know. So , um, I , I think it's, it's starting to grow, which is really great. Um, you know, my , my experience with mentorship is , um, is body as well. It's similar to Kaita , you know, I, I sort of ascribe to a couple of philosophies when it comes to mentorship. One is it takes a village, right? So , uh , you can never be disadvantaged by seeking out mentors more, more rather than less of all color shapes and sizes. Um, I , Cavita also had a lot of mentors who are white men or white women. Um, just , uh, anyone that really showed an interest in me and was willing to support me. I was willing to listen to and learn from , um, that's, that's really something that I I've made sure I didn't close the door to. Um, and second, my other philosophy is it's a marathon, not a sprint. And I think Kavita , you touched on it a little bit, but like to be successful throughout your career, you really need to continue to, to seek out and establish and nurture these mentors relationships. Um, because there are some mentors who are gonna be really great for you early on in your career to, to help you get your footing and start to hone in and, and sharpen your practice, your skills, but those same mentors, aren't the ones that are gonna get you to the next level. So you're gonna have to find, you know, other mentors that'll help you do those transitions. Um, when you , when you move into senior positions, for example, or when you're in really, really challenging positions , uh , hopefully over time, there's gonna be more of us. And, and so you'll be able to find people from, you know, south Asian heritage to help you along these paths as well. But like I said, never close the door to, to a connection. I mean, I think even though we're south Asian, you know, we're still Americans <laugh> , so it's good to reach out and connect with whomever. You can, no matter where they come from, honestly , what do you think ?

Speaker 3:

Um, I certainly echo both of your comments just to add a little bit more to what you both have already said. I think it's early in my career. I was looking for mentors who were very much in the same field. Um, but as I , um, you know, went further along in my career path, I realized that it's not just about making connections with people who are in healthcare, but really looking for people who are maybe where you want to be one day in the future. And also for people who are not just , uh , within your own subject matter or, or specialty area , um, look for not being a litigator. My , uh , connections with , uh , litigators has been invaluable , uh , for example , um, and even connections with people that are not even in the legal profession, whether it's the business or in government , um, uh , those have been , um, really , uh , valuable experiences as well. Um, the other thing is, you know, I think COVID has shown all of us that having mentors or having a network, generally speaking it's is not just about professional , um, you know, professional growth. It , it's also about having peers that understand your experiences, but where you can have really authentic conversations about what you're experiencing at a certain, you know, time in your life. Um, and it's been really wonderful over the past few years to be able to just pick up the phone and say, you know , uh , how are , how are you dealing with COVID ? Um, how, how has your work experience changed or , um, you know, how are you, how are you doing personally? Um, and people reaching out to me , um, you know, during the past couple of years has also , um, um , just been really wonderful and really made me feel very connected. I think at a time when , um, there was so much , um, you know, things were so unsure , um, and we were all feeling disconnected. So , um , just a plug to say, you know, mentoring, isn't just about professional relationships. It could be so much more if you're open to it. Those are my thoughts.

Speaker 2:

That's a , that's a really great point. And I liked your point about peers because I agree and wanna say that I think the connections we make in law school are probably some of the best and most , uh , fortified connections we'd have throughout our careers. So , um, speaking of which , um, I'd like to hear each of your advice to law students and to young lawyers that are looking to enter the field of healthcare or become healthcare lawyers , um , ALA would you mind starting us ?

Speaker 4:

Sure. ATA , um, I think the healthcare field is so broad and there's so many amazing things and interesting things to do that. Um, people have so much opportunity it's really could be a rich, rewarding and challenging career. Um, I always tell people that I have job security because healthcare in America is one of like the most highly regulated industries and seems to just get more complex over time . So if you wanna find a niche there's niches within niches to choose from , um, and sometimes if you're lucky in , in this complexity, new legal areas will emerge. Like literally you could become the expert on an area overnight because some new regulation or regulatory regime got, got got through. So if you really have an interest in , in healthcare , um, and I , when I say healthcare , I think of it very broadly, healthcare , life sciences, consumer health, digital health, like you , you name it , um, you know, make sure you tap into resources and lean on people to get exp that have experience in the area, ask questions, you know, whether it's through mentors or through ALA, or there's plenty of other sort of industry and area specific groups as well. So , um, just, just learn what's out there, get some experience under your belt, if you can , um, and see what you like and see what you don't like. There's, for example, there's certain things that I really focus on and love in my career. And there are certain things that I don't wanna touch with a 10 foot pole. They're all healthcare related , but , um, that's how varied healthcare can be. So I think it's just a matter of feeling it out and getting some experience , um , to really hone in on what you like.

Speaker 2:

Thanks. Uh , Monica , how about you?

Speaker 3:

Um, okay, thanks. I, I have a couple pieces of advice. I think first and foremost , um, self-confiden is really important. Um, if you want to be in the legal field , um, would you agree with Mika , Ethan ? A lot ? I think right. Self confidence is really important. Um, so the other thing is, you know, especially , uh, if you are an in-house attorney , um, and not in a law firm setting where maybe you have , uh , opportunities for CLEs and, you know, for professional , uh , or educational growth within your organization, I think it's really important to constantly be , uh , seeking ways to learn and to, to keep your skill set up. Um, and one of the things I've done is that, you know, I, I , I never network or read job descriptions because I'm looking for a job. I do it because I wanna see, you know, what the current pulse is , um, in my field. Um, it helps me keep my skills up to date, you know, it , it, it , um , keeps me honest in terms of looking for the training I need, so I can be , um , you know, the valuable asset , uh , in my job. Um, as a lot mentioned, I think that's especially true for healthcare attorneys because the field is just so regulated and constantly , uh , expanding. Um, the other thing I'd like to say is, you know, also think about what experiences and what jobs , uh , um, or matters you're handling early in your career and don't begrudge any opportunities that come your way. Um, you know, early on I had, I did a lot of corporate work, as I had mentioned , um, at the outset. And , um, back then, it didn't make sense, but now being in house , you know, all of those experiences, all the variety of experiences I've had really helped me , um, be able to answer questions quickly, which I'm often called to do as an in-house attorney. Um, so, you know, looking back, I think I'm grateful for some things that I may, you know, have thought, oh , why am I doing this right now? Um, and finally, I think it's important to not only consider what you're doing during your Workday, but also what you're doing outside of work. Um, I think finding ways to be of service , um, is a really, really good thing, just generally speaking, but, you know, for attorneys in particular, we've got a great skill set that , uh , we can put to use somewhere , um, in terms of being service to others. For example, I sit on a board right now , um, and that has just been an amazing experience. I have met the most incredible people , um, and feel really satisfied that I'm able to use my skillset to truly help somebody. Um, so those are my thoughts,

Speaker 5:

Madison , that's a , a really like wonderful place to, to sort of remind people to do. I think we sometimes forget when we get really focused on our day to day and sort of what we're doing in the ly of our work that , um, at the end of the day, we do have a very powerful skill set and using it for service is always a , um , an important part of what we should do. Um, and I think a lot of people still go to law school for that purpose. So I think sort of reminding yourself of that as you're , if you're a law student or a young lawyer, and sort of reminding yourself that you can be of service is a great way to make sure that you are content in your career as a lawyer as you go forward. Um, but specifically if you are a , a law student or a young lawyer looking to become a healthcare lawyer, the thing that I would suggest is to be flexible, which I think is sort of what , um, both AAP and Monica have been saying both in , in their answer to this question, but also in the way that you guys have described your careers. I think you can have a goal that you want to be a healthcare lawyer , um, but you should also be open to the opportunities that present themselves and be willing to take on the tasks and the projects that will maybe build skill sets that don't immediately seem relevant to what you wanna do in healthcare law. But those skills will become tools that are in your toolbox. That one day down the road, when you become in-house counsel at a giant hospital system like Monte , you have those tools in your, your toolbox and you can use them , um , when you are, when you eventually get to the point when you become the healthcare lawyer that you wanna be. So I would just remind yourself to be flexible as you go through your career. Um, the other thing I would say, and I just say this generally to law students, whenever I'm given the opportunity to sort of talk about this is just find your people when you find the people that will be your, your cheerleaders and your supporters. And as both , um, both of you guys have said have been your will turn out to be your mentors and your peers when you find the right people and you find the people who become your support system , um , everything else sort of falls into place . So just as you're in law school, and as you are starting out in your careers, just find, find those people that become good sounding boards and , um, are your cheerleader and the rest falls into place .

Speaker 2:

Thank you that all of you, that was such great advice. And , um, I agree with everything each of you said, I think that learning process doesn't stop throughout your career. And it, it definitely starts even before law school and developing the soft skills, which are just as important and maintaining relationships and connections with these, with people that we meet from day one of law school is just as important as, you know, continuing to network and of being and being of service , um, later on in your career. I think this is a good , uh , point to talk about some closing thoughts and hear from each of you about your experiences, any other words of wisdom that you might have , um , briefly , um , Monica , would you mind starting us off and then ALOP and Kavita can chime in as well?

Speaker 3:

Sure. Um, so, you know, just thank you to a HLA for giving me the honor of, of being part of this podcast today and being able to speak along such wonderful , um, colleagues and peers. Um, just in terms of any closing advice. I , I think, you know, healthcare law, obviously I'm biased, but it's just, it's been such a fulfilling , um , professional journey for me. I , I am never, bored'm constantly learning. Um, and for my, you know, for my personality, that's perfect. Uh , and there's always a component of trying to be better , um , today than I was yesterday. I think the field just lends itself to that , um, in terms of being a south Asian , um, in the healthcare law setting , um, you know, I've learned over the years to welcome questions about my background and my ethnicity and to , um, use those questions as a way of educating people. Um, so, you know, just be open , um, questions are a good thing. Um , having to, to, you know, explain yourself sometimes is a , is a really good thing. Um, so I think being open , um , has served me well. Um, and hopefully, you know, for anyone listening out there will serve them well as also,

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I , I , I agree with that as well. I , you know, closing thoughts, I, I guess, you know, we're , we're doing this thing, we're putting a podcast together and we're gonna put this out in the world and thank you to AHL and SVO for letting us do this such a good opportunity. And I, I just wanna say for those new attorneys that are interested in healthcare, you know, first you're not alone, <laugh> , we're , we're obviously here, we're sharing our experience and hopefully some of it resonates and, and helps you on your journey. Please, don't hesitate to make connections, use this as an opportunity and be incited to go and do something. Um, for those attorneys, those south Asian attorneys that are more well established , pay it forward , um, serves a mentor for the next generation of south Asian attorneys. You know , this is just the start of the conversation and hopefully a lot of people hear it. And a lot of people feel motivated based on what we're talking about today, to share their experiences and teach others and learn from others. Uh , I think, you know, continue the conversation.

Speaker 5:

I am really thankful to both ALA for putting this together for helping us navigate this conversation. Um, and to being able to meet the three of you , um, even if just virtually I think echoing what both Monica and , um, AAP have said. I think the only other thing that I would add is that I'm also very grateful and thankful for having this out Asian bar association , um, as a part, as an important part of my career. And I think without it, I would not be certainly on this podcast , um, but also not have the wealth of south Asian peers and mentors and sponsors that I have had. So I really encourage everyone to get involved in your local SBA chapter, get involved in the national SBA in the , in Sabba north America and come to the conference in San Francisco. It's always a lot of fun. Um, it is great to see just room rooms full of south Asian lawyers and you, it's a , it's a great way to find your people. So I'm hoping that I can see a lot of you and meet a lot of you in person.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. Thanks everybody for those closing thoughts really appreciate it. I , um, just really grateful for HLA , for giving all of us and the south Asian bar association and opportunity to , um , be represented on the podcast . I'd like to thank each of you for your time. And again, thank you a HLA . I hope this was helpful and , uh , enjoy the rest of your day.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much as , and SVA really appreciate putting this together .

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Thanks everyone. Nice meeting you all.

Speaker 5:

Thanks everyone.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to ALA speaking of health law, wherever you get your podcasts to learn more about ALA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit American health law .