Dominick DiSabatino is a standout young associate with Loeb & Loeb in New York City. A biomedical engineer in college, he is a registered patent attorney and serves as the co-chair of MedTech Metro’s RA/QS Group. Dominick shares insights on breaking into this exciting field, why he enjoys teaching CLE (aside from the free snacks!), and the best career advice he ever received.
What made you decide to practice law, and more specifically, in pharmaceutical and medical patent law?
After working with the venture arm of a large hospital system during my undergraduate biomedical engineering curriculum, I discovered that the business of healthcare suited me more than the practice of it. My legal career began in pharmaceutical and medical device patent law but evolved into FDA/healthcare regulatory advising because of the business-facing focus of the practice. Healthcare today resides at the touchpoint of medicine, technology and law. This reality presents business units across all healthcare companies with tough questions that require not only an understanding of the laws that regulate their business but also the underlying technology itself.
You mentioned that today, healthcare is at the “touchpoint of medicine, technology and law.” What do you think the future of your industry looks like?
I know this sounds like a “law school” response, but I’m not sure there is a clear answer or set of answers. The rate of technological innovation suggests that medicine and technology will continue to make leaping advances. So, at a baseline, clients will always have novel regulatory compliance challenges. Importantly—and it’s hard to say precisely at this point—the regulatory landscape as it pertains to these advances and challenges will be shaped by the next political administration’s policies. Keeping these things in mind will give companies an edge in the marketplace and insulate against headaches later on during the growth process.
How do you see this future affecting you and others in your practice area?
Dovetailing from the above, keeping pace with changing technology will be vital. We’re already seeing how technology affects the healthcare regulatory landscape with products coming to market and systems in place that healthcare companies use to conduct business. Regarding the former, for example, new technologies emerge even faster than the FDA can provide guidance about device classifications. Regarding the latter, companies are utilizing both internal and external systems to manage people, patients, contracts, business processes—you name it. All of these come with their own unique regulatory questions, and providing compliance counseling is always a moving target.
What is the best career-related advice you have received?
Be personable. We tend to work long hours, be under tight deadlines and are heavily stressed. Sometimes the printer breaks at 4 a.m. before a morning meeting or you have to re-work someone else’s project. Despite this, and of course among other things, the key to succeeding in a firm environment is how you interact with those around you—clients, staff, associates, partners, etc. Pleasantness and a genuine sense of empathy engender a positive reputation, even in crisis situations.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The non-stop variability makes this job incredibly enjoyable because I end up learning something new almost every day. In a given day, I might advise a startup medical device company regarding FDA regulations on manufacturing and development issues. Later that same day, I might work on implementing portions of a compliance program for a large pharmaceutical company’s newly-launched product. I may also review clinical trial agreements between a large hospital system and growing biotech company. While I have experience doing all of these things generally, each new instance raises new issues to tackle.
Why do you teach CLE programs?
In addition to being a great opportunity for free snacks, CLE is a fantastic way to get up to speed quickly and efficiently on a particular area of the law. I also believe that the sharing of best industry practices is crucial to client service, so while I aim to do that in the teaching role, I always find myself learning from the audience as well.
Which mentor/lawyer do you admire most?
One of the most important moments in my career was when I came into my interview here at Loeb and met Scott Liebman, the chair of our FDA Regulatory and Compliance Practice Group and co-chair of our firm-wide Life Sciences Practice. Scott’s exuberance and passion for our practice and the firm struck me instantly and has continued to do so throughout my time at Loeb. Scott is a very busy person but always has the time to listen, explain and provide advice, whether it be in a professional or personal context. All of these attributes are also emblematic of the others in our group, which I think is a testament to the care he takes with everyone who works for him.
Do you have any tips on how to build relationships with partners?
Communication and an attention to detail are paramount, but also consider issues tangential to the task at hand. Partners generally do not have time to check your work or be walked through an analysis, so have a quick answer ready and be prepared to delve into the details. Associates should also know how to “manage up” because partners often depend upon associates to keep them abreast of issues as they arise, even if that means sending multiple reminder e-mails. Further and equally important is the point regarding being personable. It’s not always easy, but try to schedule a quick lunch or cup of coffee outside of the office to talk about all things work and non-work related.