The HCTL Spotlight is a series of interviews with lawyers who practice healthcare transactional law, providing an in-depth look at the professionals within the field.
Michael Blau is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP. He is a Boston healthcare lawyer who focuses on healthcare corporate and regulatory issues.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the Boston area, although I spent 2 of my first 4 years of life on Navy bases in Kittery Maine and Portsmouth, NH while my physician-father served as a Lieutenant in the Navy during the Korean War. I principally grew up in Newton, MA, spent my early post-graduate years in Cambridge, MA, and have lived in Wayland, MA since 1990.
Where did you receive your undergraduate? Where did you study law?
I received my undergraduate from Harvard College in 1976. I graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1979.
How and why did you get into healthcare transactional law?
It was a fortuitous confluence of circumstances that launched my health transactional career. I started practicing in 1979 as a corporate/securities lawyer at Warner & Stackpole, then the oldest law firm in Boston. Near the end of my first year as an associate, a young partner decided to try to form a health law group to leverage some industry relationships of the firm. He asked me if I was interested in joining because I had some familiarity with the industry given that my father was a doctor and my mother had been a nurse. I said yes—and the rest is history. It was a natural fit for me. We went on to develop the second highest revenue producing group at the firm. In 1984, I joined McDermott, Will & Emery to expand my health transactional practice on a national platform. At McDermott, I served as head of the Boston Health Law Department and Chair of the Planning Committee for the Department nationally. In 2006, I joined Foley & Lardner to build its national health transactional practice. I now serve as Chair of all of the Firm’s Industry Teams, which includes its Health Care Industry Team, and Chair the Planning and Business Development Committee for the Health Care Industry Team nationally. I am very proud that our Health Care Industry Team has been recognized as the #1 health law practice in the country for the last three years by US World & News Reports.
Are you involved in any volunteering efforts? If so, what?
- I am the immediate past Chair of the Board and current Board member of Health Leads, a national non-profit organization that works to break the link between poverty and poor health. I have helped to steward Health Lead’s from a concept to a national non-profit, with major grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, NewProfit, and many others.
- I founded The Cancer Center Business Summit whose mission is to promote best business models and practices in cancer care, and I Chair its national Advisory Board.
- I serve on the Leadership Committee of the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care.
- I have been active for many years with the Boston Bar Association and have served as Chair of its Health Law Section, Chair of its Social Action Committee, and Editor-In-Chief of the Parent’s How-To Guide to Mental Health Services in Massachusetts (the most widely read publication in the history of the Boston Bar Association).
Have you received any awards or recognitions?
Yes, they include Top 10 Health Transactional Attorney (x3), Nightingale Healthcare News; Top 30 health lawyer by Best Lawyers; Top health lawyer, Corporate Counsel; New England and Massachusetts Super Lawyer; and Mass Law Weekly Quality Leadership Award.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In what little free time I have, I like to play hard–tennis, biking, travel, reading, movies, plays, music, parties, good friends and conversation.
Who has influenced you the most?
In life—my lovely wife, who has taught me humanity (and how to raise children). In my professional life, I have had excellent mentors, principally Larry Gerber and Harvey Freishtat, both of whom were health lawyers and Chairmen of McDermott, Will & Emery.
What do you love the most about what you do?
The opportunity for constant learning. I am also a very goal oriented person. It is very satisfying for me to help find ways, sometimes novel ways, to help clients meet their business goals—and in so doing contribute to improving the health of many.
What do you do better than everyone else?
I suppose, I am willing to work harder, longer, and with more focus (and need less sleep) than almost anyone else I know. I can also do more pull-ups than anyone I know.