Zealous Advocacy for Life Sciences Corporate Attorneys and Law Firm Counsel: Understanding and Fulfilling Your Ethical Duty to the Client

February 24, 2015 9:15am

Gael Diane Tisack
Cardiovascular Group Vice President of Legal Affairs & Terumo Americas Vice President of Intellectual Property
Terumo Medical Corporation (Ann Arbor, MI)

Ginger Pigott
Shareholder and Vice-Chair, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device & Health Care Litigation Group
Greenberg Traurig LLP

Brien T. O’Connor
Ropes & Gray, LLP (Boston, MA)

David M. Jacobs
Assistant General Counsel, Commercial Brands Legal Affairs
Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.

  • Balancing the mandate to act in the best interests of the client and the duty to adhere strictly to the responsibilities and duties owed to the court
  • Special concerns for in-house life sciences counsel regarding potentially conflicting interests: Who is the client? What is your duty to shareholders? To the Board? Duty to patients?
    • Understanding when you are giving legal advice or business advice
    • Serving two masters: representing specific business units who may wish to push the envelop while keeping your broader duty to the corporate entity in mind
    • Factoring in additional complexity regarding privilege issues for legal and compliance in life sciences companies operating under CIAs
    • Determining when to bring in outside counsel
  • Walking the fine line between zealous advocacy and making potential misstatements: how far is too far in the post-Lauren Stevens world?
    • Parsing language too finely: when have you crossed the line from truthfulness to falsity?
    • Understanding the potential ramifications for individual responsibility for both in-house and law firm counsel when there is a “bad call”
  • Ripped from the headlines: Going through hypothetical situations to formulate best practices on how life sciences attorneys should respond to potential ethical issues
    • Dealing with improper behavior by a high-ranking executive
    • Counseling a client who is acting against the advice of counsel regarding disclosures to a government agency
    • Jointly representing both a corporate client and a named employee defendant (current or former), particularly in the sales and marketing context
  • Maintaining the integrity of the profession: understanding your duty to report ethical violations