Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life Sciences, in Lieu of Chocolate

Science and technology fascinate me. Perhaps this isn’t the first sentiment you imagine hearing from an attorney, but it occurs to me daily. My enthusiasm for the life sciences industry and the intelligent people who make up its moving parts is one reason why I look forward to coming to work every day.

I was tempted to surprise the whole industry with a box of chocolates, but for today I’ll simply share a few pieces of what I value most.

I entered life sciences law with a strong desire to help companies start from scratch. As I mention on the website, my first client in this field was a Clinical Research Organization (CRO). The four individuals behind it have backgrounds in different areas of the field: pediatric oncology, managing FDA compliance issues and pharmacy. These clients fill the room with brain power, but as good as they are at what they do, they’re not attorneys. Companies in this industry have so many moving parts; they need someone on their side who understands contracts and licensing. For example, they need an operating agreement to explain how the business will run and how decisions will be made. This particular company has taken off in leaps and bounds in the four years since we started working together.

Always Changing

Due to fluctuations in venture capital and government funding, life sciences is a continuously changing environment. As soon as someone gets funding, everyone in the industry knows who they are and wants to start a new business with them or buy their existing operation. This is why new companies should involve an attorney from day one. Clients come to me knowing as much about indemnity, choice of entity and portion of liability as I know about biostatistics. This doesn’t prevent me from handling their agreements and licensing. We teach each other, and it’s in those learning experiences that I find my job so much fun!

Always Innovating

The intellectual abilities of my clients keep me on my toes. Every innovation brings a new set of issues to address on the legal side. I’m good at dealing with these issues. When you have smart people from varied backgrounds coming together and creating something new that’s financially viable, it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. These companies have a bright future not only in Seattle and San Francisco, but nationwide.

Always Building

The ultimate reward of working with life sciences companies from the very beginning is watching their rapid growth. Legally secure, my clients have a strong foundation to build on. The potential is huge because nothing can come up and bite them from behind. As their business grows, my business grows. Once the legal corners are squared, my role is to make sure the company is moving in the right direction.

The life sciences draw all kinds of curious people. Working with sponsors and vendors, or negotiating biotechnology agreements and software licenses allows me to hear about advancements directly from the source. In an industry that’s always changing, innovating and building, I get to learn something new about the world every day.