Bruce Fried started at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in January 2003. A practicing health care attorney, Fried took on the role of Washington managing partner of Dentons - after Sonnenschein's participation in a mega-merger in 2010. Legal Times recently sat down with Fried in his K Street office to talk about the firm, his practice and billing arrangements.
What are some of the big issues in healthcare on which you are working?
We are proud to have been asked to represent two of the most important health benefit exchanges in the country as their lead outside counsel. California Health Benefit Exchange—also known as Covered California—and the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange. Both have turned to us after a competitive procurement process to assist them. That has given us the opportunity to support their efforts. There are a host of complicated privacy issues that all exchanges in the country are grappling with. Congress was less than thoughtful in how exchanges fit in the world of healthcare privacy, so we have helped think through some of those issues. Intellectual property issues have come up. In many instances exchanges are fit into a funny place of the government construct. They are not government agencies but they operate under the auspices of a government. In D.C. this is going to be particularly important because members of Congress and their staff will obtain their health benefits through the D.C. exchange.
My history as a healthcare attorney has always been to work at the intersection of healthcare policy, healthcare business and healthcare law. Often that has meant healthcare reform issues. This is the fruition of many years of being involved in advocacy and now it's all about execution.
How does the firm approach the use of alternative fees?
We will work with you in any way that meets your objectives, needs, whatever it may be in terms of our financial relationship. For some clients it is, "I live on a budget and I need to budget my legal services or public policy services," and we will work that out. There are simply some matters don't lend themselves to a fixed fee or monthly budget. At the end of the day, that is conversation that is really about the relationship with the client and being open to meeting the clients' need and also having the client understand that this has to work for both parties. There are times when for a new client or a new matter, being able to quantify the scope and intensity of a project can be very hard. At the end of the day our objective is to have long, mutually beneficial relations with our clients and part of that is having a successful relationship around the financing.
What keeps you busy outside the practice of law?
The law is a jealous mistress. My wife Lisa and I just got back from a wonderful vacation. Travel is a great pastime. We were in Santa Fe and Telluride, where we went to the 40th annual Telluride Film Festival.
There seemed to be a theme about the whole festival. It was about isolation and the individual in a calamitous situation—whether it’s an astronaut alone in space or the true story of a free man who was tricked into coming to Washington, enslaved and sold as a slave in Louisiana.
This is part of a series of Q&A sessions Legal Times is conducting with D.C.-based law firm managing partners. Photo by The National Law Journal's Diego M. Radzinschi.