Pfizer’s Ex-Chief Regulatory Counsel Joins DLA Piper (Correct)

March 22, 2021, 11:01 AMUpdated: March 22, 2021, 1:53 PM

DLA Piper has hired veteran pharmaceutical industry lawyer Geoffrey Levitt to serve as co-chair of its expanding life sciences and health policy and regulatory group, an offering that will help the firm target clients in an increasingly important sector.

Levitt, who will be based in Washington, worked for Pfizer Inc. for more than a decade, serving as chief regulatory counsel. He most recently was head of international affairs and policy for Viatris Inc., and also was chief counsel for Pfizer Inc.'s Upjohn division in China.

DLA Piper Chair Frank Ryan told Bloomberg Law last month the firm views life sciences as a strength, pointing to its work as primary outside counsel for Pfizer during its Covid-19 vaccine rollout as an example. Ryan said at the time the firm needed more lawyers to help the industry comply with regulations.

“DLA Piper was on our extremely short list of go-to firms when we needed practical, quick, effective, and thoughtful advice,” Levitt said in an interview, noting he was not part of the Pfizer team working with DLA Piper on the vaccine rollout. “We worked seamlessly together, and frankly I always thought one day it would be fun and exciting and rewarding to join their team.”

The life sciences practice has been one of the hottest areas for Big Law hiring in recent months. Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group expects life sciences groups to be among the highest-growth areas for law firms this year.

There were 179 life sciences partner lateral hires among Am Law 200 firms from September through February, making up roughly 14.5% of all lateral hires in that six month span, according to Decipher, a St. Louis-based competitive intelligence firm that provides due diligence for Big Law recruitment.

Firms bulking up in the space this year have included McDermott, Will & Emery, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, and Sidley Austin.Levitt squarely fits the profile of a regulatory lawyer in the pharmaceutical space, having deep experience working with the Food and Drug Administration.

DLA Piper’s life sciences practice dates back decades and represents clients spanning the corporate lifecycle from start-up to Fortune 50 companies, said Matt Holian, global co-chair of DLA Piper’s life sciences sector.

“Some of these companies would not be in a position to get the former head of regulatory services from Pfizer to help them as they roll out a product and now they can,” Holian said. “The range of clients that we are looking forward to Geoff serving is one of the most attractive things about our practice.”

Levitt is already thinking about recruiting more lawyers to the life sciences regulatory group. He said the range of regulatory bodies overseeing the pharmaceutical and medical product industries includes the Office of Inspector General, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and other bodies under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

“As opportunities and needs present themselves, we will be looking to grow the team in selected areas,” he said.

(Corrects Levitt work history and description of Viatris Inc.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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