Cleary Rejoins Akin Gump After Stint With HHS General Counsel

April 2, 2020, 7:18 PM

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld re-signed a prominent U.S. Health and Human Services Department attorney two months after the firm lost a health care legal team to Ropes & Gray.

Kelly Cleary, who is joining the firm’s health care and life sciences practice in Washington, until recently served three years as deputy general counsel at HHS, and as chief legal officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

During that time she served as lead attorney in department initiatives to address drug pricing, and to modernize the agency’s anti-kickback and physician self-referral regulations.

Cleary will handle health care compliance, investigations, and related matters on behalf of a range of clients in the sector, including hospitals, health information technology companies, and pharmaceutical and device manufacturers.

“Having been on the front lines of all of the major regulatory and policy developments in the health care space over the last several years, Kelly brings a wealth of experience that will be extremely valuable,” John Jacob, head of Akin Gump’s health care and life sciences practice, said in a statement. “I am delighted to have her back on our team.”

In February, Akin Gump lost a four-person health care team to Ropes & Gray. The group was led by partner Stephanie Webster, who in June of 2019 won a Supreme Court case that requires the government to offer a notice-and-comment period before making substantive changes to federal health programs.

J. Harold Richards, Michael J. McDougall, and Alex J. Talley, followed Webster later that month. Each joined Ropes & Gray as counsel, and like Webster, represent hospitals and health systems in litigation.

“It has been exciting to play a pivotal role in the formation of health care regulatory and enforcement policy,” said Cleary in the statement. “At the same time, I look forward to collaborating once again with many of my former colleagues and putting my skills and experience to work on behalf of Akin Gump’s clients.”

Cleary worked at Akin Gump from 2007-2017, ending her first tenure there as counsel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at sskolnik@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

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