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Lawyer Tackles Office-Return Influx for Virtual Health Startup

Aug. 16, 2021, 9:31 AM

Cécile Abramowicz, who aided the restructuring that created Google parent Alphabet Inc., finds herself working through another major complexity—figuring out how to serve workers streaming back into offices.

Eden Health Inc., a New York-based mobile health care provider that raised $60 million in a February fundraising round, hired the Belgian-born Abramowicz to be its general counsel in late April.

Abramowicz and Eden, founded in 2015, are coping with an influx of return-to-work screenings as some employers look to end coronavirus-related remote work and return employees to offices.

The privately held company, whose backers include venture capital firm Flare Capital Partners and other investors, is making such arrangements as it looks to work with other companies to expand its suite of services.

“We primarily partner with employers to simplify and improve health care for their employees,” Abramowicz said. “We also partner with landlords because they want to bring amenities to their buildings, and increasingly that includes health care access.”

Abramowicz said Eden’s virtual collaborative care model provides everything from digital, primary, and behavioral health benefits to clients, including flu shots and Covid-19 testing.

The company also has medical offices in New York and New Jersey, which it uses to provide in-person treatment. Abramowicz said the company is in the process of expanding those facilities to other states.

But it’s the virtual care segment of Eden’s business that has primarily contributed to the startup’s growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is one of several companies in the telehealth space that have been busy hiring in-house lawyers to help them navigate a thicket of regulations.

Abramowicz is no stranger to heavily regulated environments. She spent more than a half-dozen years as a corporate associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Brussels and New York, where Abramowicz was part of a team from the law firm in 2015 that handled Google’s corporate reorganization.

She moved in-house in early 2017, joining Via Transportation Inc., a ride-sharing startup now mulling a potential initial public offering, and which promoted her to deputy general counsel later that year.

In mid-2019, Revel Transit Inc., a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup with a fleet of electric mopeds, made Abramowicz its first-ever legal hire by bringing her aboard as general counsel. She left Revel to join Eden.

Revel, which has been scrutinized for the safety of its mopeds, elevated senior counsel for litigation and regulatory Michael Fresco earlier this year to replace Abramowicz as legal chief. He didn’t respond to a request for comment about moving into the general counsel chair a little over a year after going in-house.

Abramowicz cited Fresco’s new role as a sign of the opportunity that former Big Law associates can find when joining small corporate law departments.

“I onboarded him in the first week we started working remotely during Covid,” said Abramowicz of Fresco, who joined Revel after nearly five years as an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York. “We never met in person, but he’s an awesome lawyer and colleague and I was very excited to see he got that promotion.”

Abramowicz, who succeeded Eden’s former chief legal and compliance officer Thomas Seaman, is the company’s only in-house lawyer. She has, however, recently hired for a corporate and commercial counsel position that will start in September.

While the company can’t match the cash compensation of Big Law associate bonuses, Abramowicz said there are other advantages to moving in-house at a late-stage startup, such as the ability to work from anywhere.

Eden has its New York headquarters but is a “remote first” workforce that gives its employees flexibility in choosing where they want to work, Abramowicz said.

“There’s no pressure to come into the office,” Abramowicz said. “Covid has changed mentalities about a lot of things, including the extent we need to actually be in an office to work. When people are worried about getting Covid or getting infected, it does affect their employee job satisfaction and productivity.”

Those concerns have in part helped drive Eden’s bottom line as the company looks to help employers find a new way forward with their employees.

Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, a go-to firm for many startups, advised Eden on its Series C fundraising, Abramowicz said. The company is also working with other firms on health care regulatory matters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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