Health Care Service Corp. provides health care coverage to more than 13 million people through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The Chicago-based company, which was founded in 1936 as the Chicago Plan for Hospital Care, is the country's fourth-largest health insurer. It does business as a nonprofit and is owned by its policyholders.

HCSC is a $50 billion company with more than 19,000 employees. It soon will add Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana to its roster of plans.


Deborah Dorman-Rodriguez oversees HCSC's legal team of about 55 attorneys. She and about half the team are based in Chicago; the others work in Dallas; Tulsa, Okla.; and Albuquerque, N.M. The legal department has grown by 40 percent within the past six years. She has built a team to handle almost everything in-house except for litigation and antitrust work. Amid high expenses for a number of small mergers and acquisitions, she hired John Gavin — then outside mergers-and-acquisitions counsel at Foley & Lardner — to oversee that work in 2008.


Dorman-Rodriguez turns to Kirk­land & Ellis for litigation and mergers and acquisitions. McDermott Will & Emery's Washington office takes on health regulatory issues and government contracting work. Foley & Lardner handles antitrust work and litigation. As of 2008, HCSC outsourced legal work to more than 120 law firms and attorneys. "How do you have quality or cost control over that large a group?" Dorman-Rodriguez said. She trimmed outside counsel to about 30 firms. The result has been closer, better relationships, she said.


Dorman-Rodriguez reports to chief executive officer Patricia Hemingway Hall, serves on Hall's strategy team and works with the corporate board support team. "Some lawyers can find themselves being isolated and doing only their prescribed work," she said. "That is not the case in our company. I and the other lawyers are very engaged in our company." Dorman-Rodriguez routinely draws on her background in civil litigation, appellate work and regulatory compliance. Health care reform is "sort of a lawyer's nirvana," she said.


Dorman-Rodriguez received her undergraduate degree from Sonoma State University in 1980 and her law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1984. As an attorney at the Santa Fe, N.M., firm Simons, Cuddy & Friedman (now Cuddy & McCarthy), she served as outside counsel for Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico. She came in-house at the CEO's request and became an employee of HCSC when it acquired Blue Cross Blue Shield. In 2007, she replaced the retiring chief legal officer, Hugo Tagli.


Dorman-Rodriguez is married to Jim Rodriguez, a technology consultant. The couple likes ballroom dancing and watching movies. They also enjoy global travel. They have a son, Alex, 17, who is in high school and plays soccer.


The last book she read was And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, another of Dorman-Rodriguez's favorites. She recommends Ben Affleck's Argo, which she considers the best film of 2012.