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INTERVIEW

Harry Nelson: How to Be a Top Lawyer in Your Field

By Chere Estrin

What does it take to become a successful lawyer in your particular niche? In a series of in-depth interviews for the Estrin Report, Chere Estrin profiles top lawyers from all types of practices. In this column, we zero in on their top tips. This week, we feature healthcare advocate Harry Nelson, founder of Nelson Hardiman.

Harry Nelson

Founder
Nelson Hardiman
Los Angeles
LinkedIn

A leading expert on healthcare and life science legal issues, Harry Nelson is a recognized thought leader in the healthcare space, with more than 17,000 LinkedIn followers. In addition to his regulatory strategy work, he developed a regulatory pathway for telehealth companies acquired in 2021. His lessons from crisis response work during the overdose crisis led to the bestselling book “United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain.” Harry’s healthcare advocacy work has led to numerous awards and has produced tangible results to improve healthcare regulations at the federal and state levels.

Five Things You Need to Become a Top Lawyer

1. Research skills.

You are dead in the water in healthcare law if you aren’t on top of the latest regulation or pronouncement in whatever jurisdiction you are dealing with. The ground is constantly shifting. I’ve picked up more than a few clients because their last lawyer missed a particular change. For example, after Medicare announced the 36-month rule limiting home health agency changes of ownership, I saw an influx of work because one of our competitors had failed to advise clients that it was coming.

2. Writing skills.

I am in the business of persuading investors or acquirers of early-stage ventures that the regulatory compliance concerns expressed by other lawyers are not a real problem — or that they are addressable. I am constantly relying on my ability to write to win hearts and minds and get deals done. Just last week, we had a national law firm ready to kill an acquisition of one of our clients over an expressed compliance concern. I generated a memo that convinced the other firm’s client that they were being unduly conservative. This work is all about the writing.

3. Speaking ability.

There are many moments when being able to deliver the message clearly and succinctly is the difference between success and failure. I have been through a number of 11th-hour conversations where being confident and firm makes the difference as to whether the deal gets done or not.

4. Problem-solving.

So much of the work is figuring out the best way to navigate through the puzzle. People call us when they are stuck or confused or lost. The job comes down to knowing the landscape and then thinking critically, thinking creatively and thinking quickly because something bad is going to happen if we don’t figure out the solution and get it done.

5. Interpersonal skills.

I don’t see how you can be successful if you can’t listen, relate to clients and make them feel heard and understood. People really need to be able to trust and rely on their lawyer on sensitive healthcare questions.

Read the full Harry Nelson interview on Medium.

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Chere Estrin

Chere Estrin is CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing (@estrin) and its medical records division, MediSums, and President and co-founding member of the Organization of Legal Professionals, a legal technology training organization. A former administrator for two major law firms, she has held executive positions in law firms, litigation support companies and as senior VP of a legal staffing division of a $5 billion publicly held corporation. She publishes the digital magazine KNOW, the Magazine for Paralegals, and is former editor-in-chief of Sue, the Magazine for Women Litigators.

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