Carolyn Compton, president and chief executive of the Critical Path Institute, isn't persuaded that her pro bono counsel at Paul Hastings appreciates their value. C-Path, as it is known, is attempting to streamline the development process for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostic methods to provide the developing world with lifesaving therapies. Paul Hastings, she said, has become its de facto general counsel.
Compton pointed, for example, to the firm's help winning C-Path recognition by the European Medicines Agency as a "small and medium-sized enterprise" (SME) last year. "The challenge was to prove that this nonprofit that does not make or sell anything is a commercial enterprise," said Joseph O'Malley, co-chairman of the intellectual property practice, but the team uncovered precedents that did just that. The work saved C-Path "an order of magnitude" in agency fees, Compton said. Paul Hastings delivered "far above our ability to deal with the legal and policy nuances, and far above our ability to pay" for that and a dozen other projects.
"I think they view it as business as usual they're doing what they do well on a daily basis," Compton said. "But for us, it's transformative. It allows us to enter whole areas that we would be excluded from if we didn't have the specific expertise that Paul Hastings provides us. We couldn't afford it, but we couldn't do without it, either."
The institute, based in Tucson, Ariz., is a public-private partnership that works as an intermediary with regulators, pharmaceutical companies, scientists and medical institutions to develop uniform standards for deciding when a drug, device or protocol works. The organization came to the firm's attention through O'Malley, who has spent years tending to major pharmaceutical companies' IP needs. "Initially, I thought there'd be more opportunity to work with them on IP issues," he said of C-Path. "It's turned out there's been a lot more work with our corporate practice."
New York office chairman Barry Brooks oversees the client relationship; he said 40 attorneys have participated recently. A London team including Joel Simon, Arun Birla, Tom O'Riordan, Aman Dillon, David Mallett, Omid Taheri and Jiten Tank handled the SME designation. "It's anything but rote," O'Malley said of the work, but it's consistent with the pro bono practice at Paul Hastings, where participation is "a requirement. If you're not doing it, someone will gently remind you."
For his part, O'Malley insisted he understands the stakes. "It does make me feel good that we're able to help these bright, passionate people achieve their goals," he said.