Esther Chang was a biochemistry major at Dartmouth College who realized she didn’t want to spend her life in a lab. Instead, she turned her attention to the health care business and is now a leading transactional attorney and an expert in health care fraud and privacy issues. “Health care reform is changing the field, and it’s definitely changed the transactional and regulatory work I do,” said Chang, a 2002 graduate of the University of Southern California Gould School of Law who also has a master’s degree in public health.

Chang, 36, was part of a team that represented Tenet Healthcare Corp. and its affiliates in the $88.9 million sale of its 245-bed Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center to Providence Health System-Southern California. She has worked with other McDermott health lawyers to represent Tenet in other hospital sales and imaging center and physician practice acquisitions. She also advised Vanguard Health Systems Inc., a Nashville, Tenn.-based health company, in its acquisition of the eight-hospital Detroit Medical Center. This was the country’s largest hospital M&A deal in 2010.

Outside the office, Chang has worked pro bono on cases involving human trafficking, inspired by a segment on NBC’s Dateline several years ago. She has worked for the International Justice Mission battling human trafficking in Mumbai, India. There she assisted the organization in its efforts to help police rescue victims of human trafficking and assist prosecutors in trying the perpetrators by overseeing legal research and drafting briefs and memoranda. She has also taken part in global police actions and seen the problem firsthand. In addition, Chang works locally with Oasis of Hollywood to stop human trafficking in Los Angeles. “I just want to know that once my life ends, I made a difference,” she said. — Lisa Holton