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When Reed Smith was looking to develop its managed care practice, Katherine Keefe’s name made it to the top of the firm’s short list. In early July, the former deputy general counsel of Independence Blue Cross (IBC) in Philadelphia joined Reed Smith as special counsel to lead the managed care and health information practices within the firm’s national health care group. Keefe’s responsibilities at IBC included overseeing the managed care practice area as well as overseeing both Medicare risk contracting and Medicaid managed care. She was also the lead IBC attorney responsible for compliance and security. “After nine years in managed care, which was a wonderful experience, I think I was a pretty well-rounded health care lawyer. I was ready to work with a wider range of clients in the health care spectrum, having spent a considerable period in-house,” Keefe said. “I know what a client wants in terms of legal service — they want responsible, succinct legal advice.” According to Karl Thallner, head of the health care practice group in Philadelphia, Reed Smith had identified positions where it had experienced increasing client demand for certain areas of expertise and went out and looked for somebody who could help fill those needs. “We created a list, talked to a couple people and luckily found Katherine at the top of the list,” Thallner said. “When we contacted her we were very happy to find that she had a similar interest in talking to us.” Keefe said she was surprised when Thallner called her about joining Reed Smith, as she had not been looking to move into a Philadelphia law firm. Her previous job required her to deal with firms as outside counsel, but she hadn’t previously considered joining one. After she was approached by Thallner and researched Reed Smith’s credentials, she said she was impressed with the health care department and decided it was time for a change. “I learned about the depth of their health care group, and then I began to realize what a terrific opportunity it would be to build on my own health care background with a wider range of clients on the health care spectrum,” Keefe said. Reed Smith has a national health care management group with offices in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The firm’s clients vary from pharmaceutical companies to hospitals and nursing facilities, both local and the larger national chains. “We knew Katherine from work we’ve done in a number of different areas, both by reputation and actual contact,” said Robert Nicholas, managing partner of Reed Smith’s Philadelphia office. “She is very well known in the city and highly regarded as one of the top people in the area.” Both Nicholas and Thallner felt that Keefe would provide the practice area with something additional to offer their current provider clients. “We identified her, knew she had what we wanted for our clients and we’re just really happy we got her,” Nicholas said. “We view it as a real coup.” Nicholas felt that having someone with the breadth of Keefe’s experience on the consumer side would be able to better guide Reed Smith’s provider clients through health care issues and regulations with a fresh perspective that the health care management group had been lacking. “I’m hoping to be instrumental in guiding our clients through the morass of health information regulation and helping to coordinate across our various Reed Smith offices a wide variety of managed care legal services for our clients,” Keefe said. For the time being, Keefe will take a lead role in providing services to clients in the area of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPAA), which deals with privacy and security for individual health information in the age of electronic submission. After graduating from Temple University School of Law in 1986, Keefe began her legal career representing health care providers with Alice G. Gosfield & Associates. She then moved on to the in-house legal staff at Hahnemann University Hospital before joining IBC in 1993. Independence Blue Cross senior vice president and general counsel Paul Tufano said he understood that Keefe was looking for a new challenge, and he wished her well. Keefe was one of five deputy general counsels overseeing different practice groups in the 30-attorney in-house department. A senior counsel from the managed care group, Emily Zuzelo, will be promoted to take Keefe’s place. Zuzelo, a 1987 Temple University School of Law graduate, spent the first three years of her career as an associate at Saul Ewing. She has stints at Greater Atlantic Health Service Inc. and QualMed Plans of Pennsylvania before joining Independence Blue Cross in 1996.

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