The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Matt Bergs, Managing Associate and Meghan Weinberg, Senior Managing Associate—Healthcare (2022)
Matt Bergs is an associate in Sidley’s office in Chicago practicing in the Healthcare group. Matt’s practice focuses primarily on representing clients in the life sciences and healthcare industries in both government investigations and litigation. He has significant experience defending clients against allegations based on violations of the False Claims Act, the Controlled Substances Act, antitrust laws, and state consumer protection laws. Prior to joining Sidley, Matt clerked for the Honorable Michael J. Melloy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Meghan Weinberg is an associate in the Healthcare group where she focuses on healthcare regulatory and compliance matters. This includes advising clients with respect to fraud and abuse, including the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law, healthcare reform and other legislative regulatory developments, federal healthcare program coverage and reimbursement, healthcare compliance programs, managed care contracting, and state and federal licensure issues. Meghan advises a wide range of clients on these issues, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, durable medical equipment suppliers, and physician practices. Meghan also advises strategic and private equity investors in transactions involving healthcare and life sciences companies.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Matt: The bulk of my practice consists of defending healthcare providers, pharmaceutical, and other companies in government investigations and litigation. In that context, I work with clients primarily on responding to alleged violations of various federal and state healthcare, and healthcare-adjacent, laws. This includes responding to subpoenas and other government requests for information and litigating these issues in federal court.
Meghan: I advise clients on a variety of healthcare regulatory and transactional matters, with a specific focus on healthcare provider counseling and transactions. My practice has a healthy mix of regulatory counseling and transactional components, which could include counseling a provider or manufacturer client on a proposed business arrangement, or advising a corporate client on key healthcare considerations in acquisition of a healthcare provider entity.
What types of clients do you represent? (Please feel free to list actual clients.)*
Matt: I’ve done work for a wide range of traditional healthcare and life sciences clients, including national healthcare provider groups and companies, retail pharmacy chains, laboratory testing companies, global pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, and wholesalers.
Meghan: My clients include pharmaceutical manufacturers, device manufacturers, durable medical equipment suppliers, managed care organizations, and healthcare provider entities.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Matt: My cases really run the gamut. I’ve worked on cases involving data privacy issues, unlawful pricing of and billing for healthcare items and services, and alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, False Claims Act, Controlled Substances Act, antitrust laws, and state consumer protection laws. And I’ve worked on cases at all stages—from conducting internal investigations, to responding to subpoenas, presenting to the government, drafting dispositive motions, and managing discovery in civil litigation.
Meghan: On the regulatory side, I provide counseling on complex business and legal issues related to fraud and abuse compliance, state drug price transparency laws, state and federal licensure, federal healthcare program coverage and reimbursement issues, and market access. On the transactional side, I conduct regulatory due diligence reviews for life science and provider transactions, on both the buy and sell side, including mergers and acquisitions on behalf of private equity firms. I also leverage my strong regulatory background to advise clients in enforcement matters that involve key healthcare compliance matters.
How did you choose this practice area?
Matt: Prior to attending law school, I knew I wanted to at least explore health law as a potential career field because my parents work in healthcare, and I’d always found the industry to be interesting. In law school, I took as many health law classes as I could. I’d be remiss not to also mention the influence of a number of important mentors I had in law school, including the General Counsel of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Iowa Law’s former Dean. My experience with the healthcare group at Sidley as a summer associate solidified my interest.
Meghan: I was drawn to regulatory work early in my career as a paralegal and combined that interest with healthcare after taking a Healthcare Fraud and Abuse class in law school. I have been able to use my regulatory focus to expand my practice to transactional and enforcement counseling as well.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Matt: Currently, I spend a lot of my time managing discovery in various government enforcement and civil litigation matters. This includes everything from drafting discovery requests and responses to discovery requests, to coordinating the collection and review of documents, to taking and defending depositions, and developing the facts of the case and potential legal arguments based on those facts.
Meghan: Every day is different and can be made up of several regulatory counseling matters, as well as strategic advising on long-term government enforcement matters and regulatory due diligence for fast-moving transactions. During any given day, for example, I might review a market access contract, provide verbal or written advice to a client on compliance with a state drug price transparency law, and/or analyze a provider client’s proposed business model or arrangement to provide compliance and business-forward counseling.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Matt: If you are interested in healthcare law, I would recommend trying to get exposure to as many different facets of the industry as possible so you can start to discern what type of work interests you. My health law classes, externships, and MHA coursework focused primarily on the provider side of the industry. It wasn’t until my summer with Sidley and then a two-semester long seminar on Medical Device Development during my 3L year that I had significant exposure to the pharmaceutical and medical device side of the industry, which turned out to be the side I find most interesting. The sooner you can figure that out, the better, because it will help you focus your career path. In addition, it helps to understand whether you prefer to be on the litigation side or prefer a regulatory or transactional focus. Spending your summer associate experience at a firm that offers all of these areas of focus can help inform your decision.
Meghan: I recommend taking a broad range of classes in law school to develop a baseline knowledge and appreciation for the laws underlying the issues that our healthcare clients face. In particular, I strongly recommend Administrative Law, Statutory Interpretation/Lawmaking, and any healthcare-focused classes that are offered. Finally, I think classes taught by adjunct faculty are a wonderful way to gain exposure to professionals who are practicing in the area(s) that interest you most.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Matt: I love the variety. Each case I’m on has presented new theories of liability, issues, and challenges, all of which have spurred my growth as a lawyer. The healthcare industry is so complex and touches so many different aspects of people’s lives that I don’t think you could ever get bored working in this area.
Meghan: My favorite aspects of my practice are the novelty and intellectual challenge of the issues that come to our group and the importance of understanding our clients’ business in order to provide practical, business-forward legal advice that meets both their legal and commercial needs.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
Matt: A common misconception in my practice area is that you need to have a background in healthcare to succeed. I majored in history and political science and barely knew the difference between Medicare and Medicaid by the time I got to law school. Though, in law school, I really dove into healthcare and health law, our group does not require (or expect) associates to have any baseline level of knowledge.
Meghan: Particularly on the regulatory side, I imagine people think of lengthy regulatory research and memo-writing projects. While those types of projects have come up, most clients are interested in more nimble counseling that may come in the form of oral advice or a brief written communication rather than a formal memo.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
Matt: The Healthcare group at Sidley is one of the exceptionally few groups that is able to provide associates with the opportunity to gain experience practicing all different aspects of the law. From deals, to regulatory work, to government investigations, to litigation, if you have a certain skill you want to learn or develop, we have those opportunities.
Meghan: The Healthcare practice at Sidley is multidimensional—our group offers depth and breadth of experience in regulatory, transaction, and enforcement counseling. I’ve seen how valuable it is to our clients to have outside counsel that can support matters that span across those areas.
What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?
Matt: Summer associates can expect to gain significant experience researching, writing, and issue spotting. For example, my past two summers at the firm, we’ve had summer associates assist with drafting procedural motions, running down research for class certification briefings, and preparing for appellate oral arguments.
Meghan: Summer associates are brought into matters just as associates would be—they are read in to the business and legal issues, included on key communications, given substantive assignments that are critical to the final product, and provided with feedback throughout the process on how their work fits in to the bigger picture of the matter and the clients’ needs.