Deborah Spranger of Saul Ewing
Deborah Spranger. ()

Deborah Spranger, a leader of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr’s business and finance and life sciences practices, has jumped to Pepper Hamilton’s Berwyn office, adding to the latter firm’s recently formed health sciences department.

The addition of Spranger comes on the heels of Pepper Hamilton’s hiring of a new chief lateral partner recruitment and integration officer, Karen Anderson, who had previously served in a similar position at Perkins Coie. Pepper Hamilton also recently bolstered its finance capabilities, hiring two partners from Reed Smith.

But Spranger’s arrival also comes as Pepper Hamilton has seen some recent departures, including health sciences partner Mark Kadzielski, who last week moved to Baker & Hostetler with Jee-Young Kim, who was his associate and is now counsel at the new firm. Kadzielski had previously served as the head of Pepper Hamilton’s health care industry group.

Before her move to Pepper Hamilton, Spranger had chaired Saul Ewing’s business and finance practice and also co-chaired the firm’s life sciences practice. George Magnatta will take over her business and finance role and the new life sciences co-chair is Kathryn Doyle, a spokeswoman for Saul Ewing said.

At Pepper Hamilton, Spranger said she will not take on formal leadership roles, but is “looking forward to being a practicing partner.”

Spranger describes herself as a transactional lawyer with a focus on the life sciences industry—an area where she happened to make a number of contacts in her early years as a lawyer. Before going to law school, she worked for five years in manufacturing. Spranger also works with startup companies, having launched the Resources, Access and Mentoring Program at Saul Ewing in 2016. She said she plans to continue working with entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year Pepper Hamilton combined lawyers from several practice areas to create a health sciences department, chaired by health effects litigator Nina Gussack. The change appeared to be a formalization of how the firm had long been integrating health effects, health care law, life sciences, intellectual property and investigations, Spranger said. And that interdisciplinary approach was something that attracted her to Pepper Hamilton, where she had several close contacts in the Berwyn office.

It ”made a statement to me about how important it was to them and how serious they were about the integration across disciplines,” Spranger said. In addition to good lawyering, clients now “also require that you have knowledge of them and their business and their industry,” and want a firm that can offer a full range of services within their field of work, she said.

Gussack said Spranger brings capabilities in several areas where client demand is “tremendous,” such as early-stage pharmaceutical company needs, technology transactions and counseling around clinical trials. The health sciences department is looking to continue its growth in the Philadelphia area, she said, as well as in California, Boston and New York.

A spokeswoman for Saul Ewing said in a statement Wednesday that the firm wishes Spranger well.