In my 35 years at Bass, Berry & Sims, I’ve advised a wide variety of public companies, and I continue to enjoy representing startups. I blend mergers and acquisitions, securities, and healthcare law in providing practical advice to a broad range of providers. Notably, I headed the regulatory team for a leading healthcare provider through the largest domestic leveraged buyout in history (at the time). I encourage young professionals to learn as much as they can about an industry sector, but within that sector or practice area, welcome client diversity. Working with different types of companies at different levels of maturity with varying legal needs keeps my daily work fresh and challenging.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of my community. I have served on the Metropolitan Development and Housing Association for 12 years, working on urban development and public housing initiatives that have played a pivotal role in the recent national recognitions for Nashville. I am also actively involved in national, state, and local politics. I have served on and supported the campaigns of several successful politicians because I believe that to effect change—for women, children, neighborhoods, and businesses—we must elect candidates who are smart, well-intentioned, and honest. I endorse community involvement for all professionals; I’ve found that it helps me achieve balance in my career and simultaneously advances opportunities for my community.
I’ve worked tirelessly to advance the status of women in the legal profession. An early female hire at Bass, Berry & Sims, I helped found what has become a strong women’s initiative that focuses on issues unique to professional women. In personal, community, and professional arenas, I advise young women to support each other.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
The most formidable health care attorneys are experts in the business of health care. They fully understand the nuances of complex governmental regulation, and can recognize the drivers and challenges of specific company and the whole industry.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My career role models were two senior partners at Bass, Berry & Sims—Brad Reed and Jim Cheek. Both believed that I could do it early on—and I was motivated not to disappoint them.
On Facing Challenges
Honestly, viewing what people around the globe are facing today, I don’t believe I have had hard challenges in my career. While I have worked hard to succeed, and there were of course obstacles, I think women today should occasionally take time to realize how good things are.
Leigh’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Currently, half of law school graduates are women, but their numbers among partners, general counsel, and firm management are far lower. I advocate that all young, female attorneys, and really all young, female professionals, cultivate relationships with strong mentors and develop a network of supporters who encourage smart risks, professional excellence, and personal balance.