| Name: Leslie Tector
|Job Title: Vice President and General Counsel, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
|Drinker Biddle practice and years: , Health Care, Pharma and Life Sciences, 2011-2014
|Education: Georgetown University, B.A. Nursing; Boston College Law School, J.D.; DePaul University, LL.M. Health Law
|Hobbies, Family and Civic Activities:Cooking, reading, exercising, spending time with her two children
Despite coming from family of doctors and medical professionals, Leslie Tector opted to bypass the scrubs and become a lawyer. She left Milwaukee for college on the East Coast worked in private practice and in-house, then, unexpectedly but happily, her career path led her to work in a pediatric health system.
“In law school, during our first year, they asked in 25 years, what would be your dream job? And I said my dream job would be general counsel of a children’s hospital,” she said. “Looking back I never would have dreamed that the path I followed would ultimately land me in this role.”
Leslie is the Vice President & General Counsel for the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, a role she has held for two years. Based in Milwaukee, Children’s Hospital is the state’s only independent pediatric health system and is comprised of two hospitals, a health plan, a foundation, primary and specialty physician practices, as well as a health services arm that handles adoption and social services, foster care and child placements on behalf of the state.
Leslie’s family has deep roots in the medical profession. Her father is a retired heart surgeon, her mother an operating room nurse, two siblings became surgeons and one brother is a cellular biologist focused on immunology. Leslie planned to become a nurse but became interested in a legal career after taking a master’s class in health law at Georgetown University. Leslie went onto Boston College Law School to earn her J.D. and earned an LL.M. in health law from DePaul University. After working in private practice for a decade, Leslie became in-house counsel at GE Healthcare. In that role, she worked on health care technology issues, including privacy and medical device and product development.
In 2011, Leslie joined Drinker Biddle’s Milwaukee office and focused her practice on life sciences and health care. She worked closely with partner Mary Devlin Capizzi and had the opportunity to work in-house for large pharmaceutical clients in Illinois, which included serving as privacy legal counsel and later in global clinical research. The role kept evolving, Leslie said, and was a tremendous way to get firsthand experience in a variety of areas in the pharmaceutical industry.
“And it was all because the client had a service team at DBR that Mary created to support the client’s various needs. I could rely on that broader DBR team in helping the client. It really was a great opportunity and put me in an ideal position to service the client really well,” she said.
A Heart for Helping Children
The broad experience that Leslie gained in private practice, particularly working with new technology and research, has helped inform her work at Children’s Hospital leading a team of five in-house lawyers, two risk managers, an insurance program manager and two paralegals. Her background in nursing has also been invaluable throughout her career. Leslie worked in a cardiac intensive care unit as an undergraduate and, while she was in private practice, it helped her understand hospital operations.
“When you say that you’re a lawyer and a BSN, it gives you some credibility,” she said. “In discussing hospital operational issues, you really understand what someone is talking about pretty quickly because you’ve worked on the unit.”
Like other hospital GCs around the country, Leslie and her team have been closely monitoring the changing landscape of health care reimbursement at the federal level, particularly the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS).
There is more competition in pediatrics than ever before, so making sure the health system is nimble and able to partner with others to provide services is another area of focus. For example, Leslie said that, nationally, there’s a dearth of behavioral health services for both adults and children.
“I think around the country there are some gaps in our care for kids in behavioral health so I think that’s something we’re trying to figure out,” she said. “How do you provide the appropriate care and partner with others to do that and make sure the care is effective.”
Her advice to lawyers considering a move from private practice to general counsel is to reach out to others in that position, even if it’s an industry outside of your focus, to get some perspective. Examining the work culture of an organization before committing to a general counsel role is also important, she said, because it effects job satisfaction and so much of what you do. Respect, collaboration and other positive influences start from the top leadership levels and permeate through the rest of an organization. Leslie said she loves working with the legal, risk and senior leadership teams at the system and feels lucky to be surrounded by people committed to doing their best for kids in pediatrics every day.
“If you know me at all, I love children. I love the mission,” she said. “With Children’s Hospital, you tend to think of the critically ill kids, but some of what our system does for children is preventative care. And for a lot of the underserved and Medicaid population, meeting their needs are wholly different than the needs of kids who have access to commercial insurance. I think you feel good at the end of the day knowing that you’re really making a difference in people’s lives.”