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Smart. Shrewd. Tenacious. Charming. The adjectives used to describe Barbara Bennett clearly indicate the high regard in which clients and the legal community hold this Hogan & Hartson partner. So it’s not surprising that she has built an envy-worthy practice — one that brings together classic mergers-and-acquisitions work and life sciences transactions, with a strong dose of strategic business advice. Over the years, Bennett, 53, has done her share of the more traditional health care work for hospitals and managed-care companies, but these days she often finds herself counseling bioscience and medical-technology firms. She advises both the startups and the well established. Bennett describes her knowledge base as “a mile wide and three feet deep.” And that, she says, allows her to translate narrow regulatory advice into strategies that help her clients reach their business goals, as well. “Her analytical skills are great,” says Joe Ashkouti, assistant general counsel at Per-Se Technology. “I prefer her over other firms and lawyers we’ve worked with. She’s very, very practical with how to make things happen.” Earlier this year, Per-Se, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based company that provides business services to the health care industry, acquired Bennett’s client NDCHealth Corp. Although many of the best life sciences attorneys did not attend law school immediately after college, Bennett took an especially circuitous path to her current position: She graduated from Vanderbilt University with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and then tried her hand at journalism and teaching over the following six years. But the fit wasn’t right. “After doing a very careful analysis, I decided to go to law school,” says Bennett. “I wanted something that was going to force me to continue to develop.” She earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt and then returned, three years later, as associate general counsel. She structured business transactions and managed complex lawsuits for both the university and the medical center. After nine years she left to join TriPoint Health Group in Nashville, Tenn., as general counsel and corporate secretary. And in 1997 she jumped ship to the D.C. office of Hogan & Hartson. It’s at Hogan that Bennett really got into the life sciences end of the practice. “I love an intellectual challenge, and this area provides some of the greatest challenge because it is so heavily regulated,” she says. “And because the industry is constantly changing, it means there will always be new challenges.” Indeed, Richard Anderson, chief administrative officer at Hythiam, says that Bennett has simply accomplished everything his company has asked her to do. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based Hythiam licenses treatments for drug and alcohol diseases. “Barbara . . . just gets the job done,” Anderson says. Bennett sees in her work the chance to exercise both a wide range of skills and a broad curiosity. “What I do is essentially analytical problem solving,” she says. “Math and writing are both involved, and when you combine everything else, that’s why I love what I do.”

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