Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM

Duane Morris added to its health law group this week, hiring a lawyer with longtime links to the industry.

Delphine O’Rourke joined Duane Morris’ Philadelphia office as a partner, fresh from a short stint in-house and after several years at a midsize health law boutique. O’Rourke was most recently vice president of legal services and associate general counsel for Ascension, which is the largest nonprofit health system in the United States, with more than 2,600 sites of care, including 151 hospitals.

She took on that position full-time Jan. 1, but she had served as Ascension’s outside counsel for over a decade before that. O’Rourke declined to say whether the company will continue to be her client as she joins Duane Morris, noting that she just started at the firm on Monday. But she said she still has “strong and ongoing relationships with that legal department.”

O’Rourke said she had long known Duane Morris chairman Matthew Taylor, as well as health law practice chair David Loder and health law partner Lisa Clark. She said she was interested in joining the firm because it has “a lot of depth serving institutional providers, as well as new stakeholders in the health care space,” such as private equity investors and larger retail companies.

“It’s a pivotal time in health care and the landscape is changing so quickly,” O’Rourke said. “It’s really a high-stakes area. There’s a lot of opportunity.”

In her practice, she expects to focus on corporate governance and compliance, as well as development of new health care delivery.

Before going in-house full-time, O’Rourke had been managing partner of the Philadelphia office of Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman. She was the founding partner of that office, which opened in September 2014.

Hall Render no longer has a Philadelphia office listed on its website. O’Rourke said there were still professionals in that office when she left in January, but she deferred any other comment about the office to Hall Render. Hall Render managing partner John Ryan did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Hall Render was one of the fastest-shrinking law firms this year on The National Law Journal’s NLJ 500, which tracks lawyer head count. The firm lost 28 percent of its lawyers from 2017 to 2018. Ryan, in a July statement, attributed that change to three factors: a significant client adding several Hall Render attorneys as in-house counsel, a trend in health care toward hiring in-house counsel, and the departure of seven medical malpractice attorneys “whose work was increasingly misaligned with the firm’s overall strategic focus.”

Duane Morris has made several moves in health care-related practices of late. Last week, the firm announced a new head of its pharmaceuticals and biosimilars litigation and regulatory practice, partner Patrick Gallagher, who is based in South Florida. The change was meant to be in-line with that practice’s national focus, Gallagher said.

Earlier this month, the firm entered into a partnership with the American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp, a national trade organization. Through that partnership, the firm will share resources with ATACH’s members, as it continues to grow its cannabis practice that launched in 2015.

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