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Ropes & Gray Signs Health Care Legal Team From Akin Gump

Feb. 21, 2020, 8:22 PM

A three-lawyer health care legal team has jumped from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to Ropes & Gray, where they will practice as counsel in the firm’s Washington office.

J. Harold Richards, Michael J. McDougall, and Alex J. Talley followed Ropes & Gray partner Stephanie Webster, who weeks ago made the same move. In June of 2019, the team, led by Webster, won the U.S. Supreme Court case Azar v. Allina Health Services, in which the court found that the Department of Health & Human Services improperly changed Medicare payment rates without notice.

Richards, McDougall, and Talley represent hospitals and health systems in litigation involving Medicaid, Medicare and other federal programs, with a focus on reimbursement.

“Stephanie, Harold, Michael and Alex immediately strengthen Ropes & Gray’s established health care practice in Washington, D.C.,” Colleen Conry, managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s Washington office, said in a statement. “Their litigation, regulatory and administrative law experience is a perfect fit.”

Previously, McDougall served as an attorney adviser and Hearing Officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency within HHS. In this role, he provided legal and technical support to the Provider Reimbursement Review Board, an independent appeals panel.

Talley has previously worked as a legal fellow in the general counsel’s office at Inova Health System, a network of hospitals, outpatient services and health care centers in Northern Virginia.

Attorneys said they saw the Allina Health Services case as a milestone that established a legal right to notice and public comments.

The case is “changing the landscape in the Medicare realm for challenges to agency policy,” Webster said this month. As a result, she said, there are a “number of areas in which there is potential for litigation.”

More than 70 Ropes & Gray attorneys from around the United States represent most sectors of the global health care industry, advising them on a range of litigation, transactional, and policy matters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Skolnik in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; Rebekah Mintzer at