AHLA's Speaking of Health Law

Health Law After George Floyd, Part 2

February 11, 2021 AHLA Podcasts
Health Law After George Floyd, Part 2
AHLA's Speaking of Health Law
More Info
AHLA's Speaking of Health Law
Health Law After George Floyd, Part 2
Feb 11, 2021
AHLA Podcasts

In celebration of Black History Month, AHLA is proud to offer this two-part podcast series on health law after the killing of George Floyd. In Part 2, Thomas J. Wronski, Director of Legal Talent Solutions, EBG Advisors, speaks to Ricardo Johnson, Vice President at Healthworx at CareFirst BCBS, and Clifford Barnes, Member, Epstein Becker & Green PC, about how law firm practice has changed after the events of 2020, including diversity efforts, how best to develop a minority talent pipeline, and how to set up an environment of inclusion. The speakers also discuss the need to share perspectives and the importance of mentors, and Ricardo and Cliff share their stories about their paths to becoming lawyers. Sponsored by EBG Advisors.

Listen to Part 1.

To learn more about AHLA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit americanhealthlaw.org.

Show Notes Transcript

In celebration of Black History Month, AHLA is proud to offer this two-part podcast series on health law after the killing of George Floyd. In Part 2, Thomas J. Wronski, Director of Legal Talent Solutions, EBG Advisors, speaks to Ricardo Johnson, Vice President at Healthworx at CareFirst BCBS, and Clifford Barnes, Member, Epstein Becker & Green PC, about how law firm practice has changed after the events of 2020, including diversity efforts, how best to develop a minority talent pipeline, and how to set up an environment of inclusion. The speakers also discuss the need to share perspectives and the importance of mentors, and Ricardo and Cliff share their stories about their paths to becoming lawyers. Sponsored by EBG Advisors.

Listen to Part 1.

To learn more about AHLA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit americanhealthlaw.org.

Speaker 1:

Support for A H L A comes from E B G advisors, a national strategy and management consultancy based in Washington DC but serving clients globally. They assist the healthcare and life sciences industries with business strategy and program development, policy analysis, regulatory compliance, human resources training, executive compensation, performance improvement, data security, and benefits consulting and legal talent solutions. For more information, visit epg advisors.com.

Speaker 2:

Okay. My name is Thomas Roski. I'm Director of Legal Talent Solutions for E B G advisors. Um, I'm a legal search consultant who specializes in recruiting, healthcare and life sciences attorneys for law firms, and for in-house corporate council positions. This is segment two of our podcast health law after George Floyd, a special program that the American Health Law Association is producing for Black History Month. In our first segment, uh, we were introduced to Ricardo Johnson and to Cliff Barnes, uh, Ricardo's with, uh, health Works at Care First, B C B S. And Cliff Barnes is a renowned partner at the Epstein Becker Green Law Firm and a fellow of the American Health Law Association. Uh, we talked about, uh, Ricardo's path and the corporate world, and the things that, uh, care First and HealthWorks are doing, and things that other companies are doing, uh, and should be doing, uh, to promote, uh, diversity and equity and inclusion. In the second segment. Today's segment, we're, we're gonna lead off with Cliff Barnes, and we're gonna ask Cliff about his path again. Uh, and then we're gonna ask for his insights on where things stand and where things can be improved and changed in the law firm world. So, I'm gonna ask Cliff the same question as I asked Ricardo in the first segment. This is health law after George Floyd. What changed in 2020? Cliff?

Speaker 3:

Um, well, um, I think, uh, George Floyd, uh, the incident shined a light on, uh, for for many folks. Um, I, I think that, uh, it created an opportunity, uh, for people to be, uh, more aware and responsive to, uh, what is, uh, racism and white supremacy in, in, in America. And, and, uh, it, it's, it also shined a light, I think, on the fact that there are, there are many different worlds and people live in their own worlds, and many white, white people live in a world that is really insulated, and the black folks live in a, a different world. Uh, and so, uh, I think what happened in George Floyd is it created an opportunity for those two worlds to, uh, to begin to look at each other a little bit more. I know at the, the firm, um, the, uh, it, as it turned out, uh, as a result of that incident, I, I sent an email around, uh, simply to say, uh, you know, to explain a bit, uh, what was happening in, uh, the world in the sense of, uh, why the demonstrations were occurring. Uh, the, the issue about, uh, a criminal justice system, uh, that, uh, is, uh, a justice system for White and the justice system for black. And, uh, explained a a bit in a fairly objective way how that is vestiges of slavery. And that has been the way it has been, uh, for the last 400 and, and one years, and what Black Lives Matter meant, and didn't mean that other lives didn't matter, but as it relates to Black Lives, it, it, uh, appears as though the law did not, uh, uh, sanction people that killed black people. Uh, and, and so, uh, it, it was a statement around why can't these lives matter as much as other lives? Uh, and, uh, and so as a result of that email, I sent it out just for information. Uh, we've got about, uh, uh, you know, about 500 employees. We've got about 300 attorneys and 15 offices around the country. So it was really just, and, and we have out of the, uh, you know, out of the 300 attorneys, we've got about 40 minority attorneys, um, and, uh, uh, all, all the minorities. So the, um, you know, it was really to, you know, just to provide an explanation. And I figured a couple of people would get back to me. Well, I got over 150 emails back, uh, and, uh, and other people in the firm got emails. And, uh, as it turned out, we had some discussions. I'm currently the vice chair of the Diversity and Professional Development Committee. So we basically got together, uh, as a group and began to talk about what was going on and what should we do about it. Uh, it, at our firm, we have combined diversity and professional development. Uh, it, it's, it's my view that it's all the same. What diversity development is, is professional development for, uh, diverse, uh, uh, uh, diverse people. Uh, so we, we met, uh, and we talked about, uh, a need to really share perspectives, because what's needed is let's, let's see if we can, as different communities understand how this is impacting different people. And so we ended up having, uh, 12 town halls virtually with, uh, uh, no more than 30 people each. And I was the convenor of the town halls, and we talked about it, and, you know, basically organized it so that we gave everyone an opportunity to talk about, uh, how these events were impacting them, uh, talking about racism, how, where it came from, how it exists, and, and, and begin to, uh, uh, talk about these issues. And, and so it gave everyone at Epstein Becker an opportunity to, to do so. And, and, uh, and for the firm to spend its resources and time on this issue, which I think is a current issue, uh, I think was a very, very good thing. As a result of that, we ended up, we created a couple of videos of people's experiences and sent that around. And then for folks to hear how a mother felt, uh, uh, when they send their five year old, six year old, seven-year old, eight year old out, uh, and, and the fear that they feel, because they don't know whether their son will come home, uh, because it could be a totally innocuous experience. They could be jogging down the street and somebody just shoot them. Uh, and, and so for a black parent, this is very, very real. Uh, and, and, uh, and so for people to hear that and see that and talk about that, it, it creates, uh, a sensitivity that otherwise was not there. Uh, and, uh, and also, uh, it, it, it, it creates, um, uh, you know, connectivity, uh, so that they can know someone. Uh, and so I think, uh, the, the town hall served a, a, a valuable role. We, we then had, uh, also some discussions about Brian Stevenson's. Uh, uh, he has a, uh, a, uh, uh, a documentary out about the criminal justice system, and, and particularly around, uh, uh, minorities and black folks on death row. Uh, he has a, uh, uh, a, he's actually dedicated his, uh, uh, legal career, uh, to, uh, uh, fighting, uh, uh, for, uh, uh, minorities, uh, on death row. And, and as it turns out, uh, you know, he has, uh, I think, uh, they've actually found a hundred, and he's, he's overturned 150, um, uh, uh, convictions of individuals that are on death row, because they were actually innocent out of the, there were about 1500 cases, and they tried retried 150 of those cases, and 150 of those cases were found that the individual was actually innocent. It wasn't that they Wow. Committed the crime. These, yeah, these weren't, these, these were people that committed a lesser crime. They did not commit the crime, but the criminal justice system was, is designed so that ultimately they need to get somebody they need, they wanna make sure that they have somebody. Uh, Brian says on his video that it's better to be white, rich, and guilty than black, innocent and poor. That is an indictment of the criminal justice system, because what was happening is these were poor black people. And because, uh, the justice system was looking some, for somebody to charge for a crime, they charged them. Uh, and, uh, and, and so it, it is, uh, it is a criminal justice system that, uh, that needs a tremendous amount of reform, uh, where you have, and I, I think we've, we've, we've actually seen it most, most recently, uh, even, uh, in the events of, uh, of January 6th, where you've got, uh, individuals that are on the, uh, uh, Capitol police that are identifying with, uh, white supremacists. Uh, and, and these same individuals have been in the department, uh, for years and years and years. And, uh, and so the impact that they have had in the department, uh, you would imagine has been where black folks have been stifled in those departments. And indeed, there have been many suits by, uh, black offices on the, the, uh, uh, uh, uh, on the Capitol police over the years. Uh, and, and so you begin to, uh, pull that together. So I think George Floyd has created an opportunity for, uh, America to look at itself. I mean, similar to what happened, uh, with Martin Luther King, uh, I think Martin Luther King was brilliant in that he understood in the civil rights movement that he needed to, to put Bull Connor on tv, uh, so that all America could see the barbaric treatment of, of, uh, with, with children, uh, using fire hoses and dogs. And then people responded not necessarily to racism and white supremacy. What they responded to was they were upset on the treatment that bull kind made, but it got people involved in the Civil Rights movement. And so, ultimately, uh, George Floyd in, uh, was, was another one of these cataclysmic events everyone could see, uh, on TV that, that, uh, the police officer that had is, uh, uh, knee on his neck. And I mean, he was not, it, it wasn't, uh, he was very comfortable in doing it. And if you look at, uh, other, uh, videos, the the knee on the neck is, uh, is, has been used many, many times before. So, um, I, I think, uh, it was a, it is and remains a magic moment. Uh, as I think about it in our firm, it was a catalyst and continues to be a catalyst to create a conversation, which I think we all need to have. Uh, because the real question is, is what do we do about it? Uh, and, uh, and, and what do we do today? Uh, and so, uh, uh, we're, we're continuing to, uh, have, uh, create opportunities at the firm, uh, to, uh, to create these basis for conversations and also to institute programs as well. We've got, uh, we, we started, I started, uh, probably about, uh, eight, nine years ago now. Uh, one L Pipeline program to, uh, bring minorities, uh, into, uh, the firm and, uh, give them a first year internship, uh, first year in law school with a view towards, uh, exposing them to healthcare, getting them involved in seeing what health law is really about, uh, and then, uh, getting them to become, uh, second year associates. I, I have told the firm that we need to do it because we need to get very talented minorities, and if you start to look for talented minorities in the second year, many of the larger firms and other firms are gonna get them. And so let's try to get them early on. Great, uh, minority talent. And, and we've been able to do that. And the program has been, uh, very successful and has become a pipeline, uh, for minority associates in our firm.

Speaker 2:

Well, you yourself, uh, are, uh, have just blazed a trail. I mean, in 19, you know, 38 years ago, uh, isn't that long after the founding either of Epstein, Becker Green, and you've been through, uh, not just, um, uh, upheaval in the world in the late sixties, but in just major, major changes to our economy and to our health system, our health delivery system, and it, yeah,

Speaker 3:

Lots of, lots of current

Speaker 2:

System. So, um, give us an idea about your, your path and the things that you've seen over time and where you came from, and then your observations is how things have changed.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Uh, well, uh, let me start from where, where I came from. I, I actually, uh, started out in Brooklyn. Uh, I was in the Red Hook projects, uh, and, um, and, um, you know, it, it, uh, uh, wherever you grow up is where you grow up. And, and there's no rich or poor, it's just, you know, you, you, you, you, uh, you make due. Uh, and so, uh, I didn't, there, there was no concept of poverty. We just, uh, but it was the projects, uh, and, um, and so, uh, uh, the opportunities are not as great, uh, in from the projects, uh, as it is from, uh, other, other sources. You don't have much of that social capital that we talked about in the first, uh, segment. Yeah. So my parents, uh, uh, none, neither of my parents even graduated high school. Uh, and, uh, and so, uh, when I went, uh, when I, I went to, uh, uh, elementary school is a public school in, uh, in, uh, in New York. And, uh, I ended up, uh, going to, uh, starting junior high, uh, in high school. I went to a trade school. Uh, so I was, I was going to become a, uh, uh, uh, airline mechanic. And, uh, and I think you would've been a great one, cliff. Yeah, no, I, I, there's no doubt about it,<laugh>. Uh, and, uh, uh, and so, uh, I was, uh, it was a summer of, uh, and I, I might have been 64, 60, well, the, actually, it was, uh, the summer after Mount Luther King, I think, was assassinated. Uh, and, and, um, and, uh, there was an, uh, a program called, uh, the Upward Bound Program. And one of my, uh, mother's, uh, friends was actually running the program. And as it turned out, uh, they, uh, one person didn't show up, and they had an extra slot, uh, in the program. And it was a summer program where you spent the summer at Columbia University, uh, and, uh, and you, they, you took classes and they had cultural exposure and, and, and that kind of thing. And then there's a, uh, they were academic high schools that were related to the program. And, uh, so my mother asked me if I wanted to go, and I said, no, I don't wanna go. I wanna, I wanna play with my buddies,<laugh> out in the streets. So she said, you know, education is the key, and, and you're gonna go. So I said, okay. So I ended up going to this, uh, spending the summer at Columbia, and I had just a fantastic time. They took us to plays, we ate out to restaurants, and these are things that at that time, I had never done. Uh, and, um, so the program, uh, ended and they asked me if I wanted to continue in the program, and if so, I would've to go to Jamaica High School. And, and, which is, you know, in, out, in, out in Queens. We had over that time, moved to Corona, uh, and in Queens. And so this was the, this was the Upward Bound High School. So, uh, I ended up doing that. I left aviation, and I went to an academic high school. So had I not gone into that program, and had they not had that extra slot, uh, I'd probably be at, uh, retired, uh, with, uh, sitting, uh, with my beer, uh, right, right, right now. Uh, but, but I ended up, uh, went out to Jamaica High and, um, uh, and there were a few of us, uh, at, uh, Jamaica High School. It was, uh, primarily a Jewish, uh, community there. Uh, and, uh, and so, uh, it was through Jamaica High School that I got, uh, the opportunity to go to college. Uh, and, uh, I ended up, uh, as it turns out, I, I actually wanted to go into engineering. Uh, and, but none of the schools, uh, engineering schools gave me money. Uh, and, uh, and so I applied a bunch of them. I got into a lot of'em, but they, they were, they, I, I just didn't get the, the, the kind of resources that I needed. So I went back to my guidance counselor and I said, you know, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta cast a net again because we, I'm gonna need some, some money to go to school. So, uh, so the schools that, that, uh, that gave me money, didn't have an engineering program,<laugh>. So I had to make a choice. So I, I chose the money, uh, and I went to college at Pace College, uh, and, uh, and it was a business school, business college, basically. But they gave me a, a a a a full ride. And I, and, and it was in that experience that I really got into business and found health administration and, and, and, uh, and, and went, uh, went from there. So, um, uh, so it's making your way and finding opportunities where, where, uh, where, uh, where, where you can find them. And so when I, uh, started at, uh, Epstein Becker and Green, I was, uh, you know, the, uh, first, uh, black, uh, associate. And, uh, and so it was an experience, I will tell you. Uh, and, uh, tell us what, tell us about it. What was it like? Well, I, I, I mean, it is, uh, it is, uh, it's, it's isolating. Uh, and, uh, and, uh, and I was not the most confident person in the world at that time. And so I, I really had to create some, find some mentors outside of the firm. I had mentors in the firm, but I had to find some minority, uh, partners that I could talk to and, and, and just bounce things off of, of situations, how do I deal with this? Um, and, uh, I had to, I actually went to counseling, uh, so that I can deal with some of the, uh, internal issues that I had about my own confidence, uh, in, in, in situations. Uh, I remember on several occasions, uh, being in little groups and folks were talking about, uh, their experiences, some of which I was not necessarily familiar with. And it kind of just hit me that what I'm gonna start to do is just talk about my experiences and get, just take the conversation. And it was, it's one of those aha moments for me. And, uh, and so I think we were talking about music, and then I just started talking about jazz and, and, and got everyone turned around, and it just, it was one of these, I said, you know, what I just need to do is do me<laugh>, uh, and, um, and, and let, let Cliff let the chips fall where they may.

Speaker 4:

So Cliffs this is, this is, uh, uh, Tom, I'll, I'll, um, I'll break protocol and ask Cliff a question, if that's all right. Okay. Yeah. Um, so, so, cliff, I I'd love to hear you, you talk more about that, right? So there, there's, you know, is we're, we're about, we're a generation apart. Um, and I'll say, you know, when I was thinking about going to, uh, law firms to practice, um, felt that same, uh, similar sense of, of, of one isolation, um, and two, um, that folks didn't really, weren't really invested in, uh, who I was, right? And, um, uh, big firms, right? Uh, you know, and I consider, uh, e bg a a big firm. Um, and so I'm curious what your experience has been and sort of what tricks of the trade you have. One from the coping, uh, uh, with, with the isolation is, is what some of the mechanisms you just described, and then two, how you outlined your path, right? Because one of the things that I find right, um, troubling about, uh, and I thought about this when I was thinking about going to a firm, and I, and I asked myself, if it wasn't for the money, I probably wouldn't do it, um, because I found that troubling, um, how many associates made it up the ranks, depart, um, uh, associates of color, right? Made it up the ranks to, um, to partner. Um, you know, you've made it up to the ranks of partners, set, you know, and chaired a lot of the committees at the firm. Um, I think it'd be helpful, helpful for me, right? Just to, just to hear a little bit about that in that journey.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. No, it is a, um, it, it's a challenge. And I will tell you, it is a, it's an isolating experience. And, um, uh, in law firms, ultimately, uh, you have to create your own business. Uh, and, uh, I was, I was entrepreneurial, uh, and I, I figured it out pretty early on, uh, that there were people that had business and people who worked for people with business. And that if I tried to be one of those that worked for people with business, I would be in a very precarious situation,<laugh>. Uh, and that, uh, it, uh, my surviving in this, uh, would be then dependent on that person. And I didn't wanna, I didn't wanna put myself in that position. So I, I realized that I gotta get my own God bless the child that has their own. And so, and one of my mentors said, uh, you know, at this firm, you've gotta get some specialties, uh, and you gotta have more than one specialty, so that when the market goes up, you, you're busy, but when it goes down, you got something else that you can rely on. So, uh, I was, uh, when I first got to Epstein Becker, I was working in the antitrust area. I was working a lot. Antitrust was just getting involved in healthcare. I had an economics background. I, I enjoyed it. Uh, the guy who was the partner was, uh, uh, uh, bill Cope was, uh, previously he was a, a civil rights attorney. So, you know, we could relate. Uh, and, uh, and, and if it wasn't for him, I, I know I wouldn't have been at Epstein, Becker and Green, but we were, he really took me aside. Uh, so you gotta have somebody who's gonna, who's gonna gonna really take you aside and help you along the way. Um, uh, and, uh, but he said, you know, we, you're gonna need to have some areas that you specialize in. And so I really began to look at the corporate area, uh, and, uh, and I began to understand that I needed, if I'm gonna become partner, as I began to move, uh, through the firm, I, I need to have my own business. Uh, and, uh, and so

Speaker 4:

That's hard for a lot of people to call

Speaker 3:

It a Duke, it's, it's very, very difficult. Social capital, again, it's, it's very, very difficult. But it's, it's, um, uh, I had an mba I had worked in, uh, a while in, uh, in, uh, uh, in, uh, before I went to law school. And, uh, and so, uh, I, I, uh, began to get involved. Uh, and, and, and so I looked at it, I, I look at it all as energy, uh, and, uh, and so, uh, I need to create energy so that, uh, as people begin to do what they're doing, my energy is out and about. Uh, and so, uh, and so I, uh, I was in Washington DC and I made sure I got involved in the, uh, the, um, a number of activities, uh, in the, in, in the community. Uh, and, um, and I was fortunate to begin to represent some small, and it really turned out to be minority businesses. Um, uh, uh, couple of, uh, physician practices that at that moment were pretty large. Uh, and, uh, and one of the practices, uh, hired a guy who did his PhD and just so happens in, uh, in managed care, uh, and, uh, who was the c e O of this practice? And, uh, and so we started talking about creating an H hmo. This was back in, in the early eighties, uh, and, uh, and ended up creating an h hmo, and I represented the HMO and created the hmo. And, um, and, uh, and, and then I began to represent other HMOs<laugh>. And, and so it, it, it, it opened up a door, uh, that would otherwise not be there. So, uh, when I became partner, I'd say three quarters of the work that I was doing was my work. Uh, and, and, uh, and so, and, and, uh, the other thing is that, uh, Epstein Becker was a, it, it was, uh, Steve Epstein, the founder, was, was kind of a family guy, and so, you know, was a small family. So he took me aside, uh, I guess in the, well, about my seventh year, he said, look, if you wanna be a, you wanna be a partner? I said, yeah. He said, okay, well, you know, I'm going to, uh, I'm going to vet you. Uh, and so, uh, he basically said, we sat down and he said, look, uh, uh, for the first minority partner, you are, you are gonna need, we are gonna need to get everybody in the firm to be ready. And, and to say, okay, so that when we present it to the firm, we have a unanimous vote. Uh, and so I'm gonna want you to work with everyone, every partner in this, uh, office. And, uh, when they're ready, I'll let you know. So literally, I checked in with him once a month, and he said, you know, you gotta go back to so-and-so. They're not ready,<laugh>, you know, and, and so we just, we had to work that out. Uh, and, um, and so, and at one point he said, you know, I think we're ready, uh, and, uh, we're gonna be ready for this next meeting. I think this was probably like in April. He said, in, in November, I think we're gonna be ready. Uh, and so it, it, uh, it, it, it's, it's just critical that somebody took me under their wings, uh, because I had no idea. Uh, and, uh, and then also make, make the path. It, it, it, it, it in and, uh, and, and so that I had to address the unreadiness Yeah. Had to address the unreadiness. Um, and, um, so, uh, it, uh, it, it was, it was, uh, it was an interesting, interesting experience, but I, I, I was, uh, I was beginning to feel my own oats, so to speak, in the sense of, uh, uh, I was doing interesting stuff in the marketplace. And, and, and, and, uh, there was nobody doing work in Medicaid managed care when I was doing it, uh, and in the firm. Uh, and so, uh, it began, it began to become something where people started saying, well, you know, that issue, you gotta go to Cliff<laugh>. And, and, and so, uh, that, that then makes, um, makes, makes a difference. But it's, it is, um, it, it, I, I would say for the most part, for most minority, uh, partners, it's really about finding your own piece of business. Uh, and, uh, because, uh, to be, uh, you know, just to be dependent, it's, it's, it, it works for some, uh, uh, partners, but, uh, I, I think it's just a, it's, it's a tough way to go if you are, uh, if you're a minority,

Speaker 2:

Both Ricardo and Cliff, different generations. But one of the commonalities and probably a commonality for any attorney or any corporate executive is the importance of mentors. You both have had people who you felt, uh, comfortable cliff, earlier in your career, you found, uh, attorneys of, of color who you could, you could reach out to, and who worked with you and helped put you on a path. And yeah,

Speaker 3:

Mr.

Speaker 2:

Epstein did that later on in the career. And, and, and at, uh, at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ricardo, uh, that seems to be, uh, uh, just a critically important thing. Can, can you speak

Speaker 3:

To that? Well, you, and you have to find mentors, uh, and, uh, sometimes they don't self-identify. Sometimes you gotta go out and say, uh, you know, I'd like to, like to, to you, to, uh, to, to mentor me. I, I, uh, had an experience recently. I was speaking at a conference and, um, uh, the, it's the National Association of Health Service Executives, which is a association of minority, uh, health executives around the country. And, um, after the talk, uh, I went, I left the room, and a, a young lady was standing there, uh, tall, striking, uh, and she said, uh, Mr. Barnes, I'd really like what you're saying, uh, and, you know, I'd like you to be my mentor. Uh, and, you know, just sure, you know, gave him a card. And, and she was, uh, uh, she was doing a, a summer associate, um, uh, between her first and second year in school at, um, uh, at, at Hopkins. Uh, and, uh, so, uh, we started talking. She ended up, uh, uh, there were three, uh, summer associates there. She was the only one that they hired. Uh, she's still there, she's now running a couple of departments. And, and, and I've helped her with her projects. Uh, but, but, you know, she reached out. And, uh, and, and it's, it's important to do that, uh, for anybody that's, uh, moving, trying to move up in, in the corporate world of the legal world. Uh, and then, uh, you, you also have to, uh, create the goodwill so that people come to you and say, look, you know, I, I, I wanna mentor you as well. So you need them both. You need that, you need that luck, as I talked about earlier, that opportunity, meaning preparedness. And how about Ricardo? Have you mentored people in your role?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I mean, so I agree. I mentor people. My mentors have been just critical to me, critical. And so, you know, as, as folks, as folks listen to us talk about this, I mean, one of the things that I'll say is in my, you know, my personal life, I had mentors. Uh, but in my professional life, as I, as I started to go through college and, and, um, most of the mentors, uh, that, uh, I adopted or adopted me, um, were, were, were white men. Um, and so, you know, I, I wanna make sure that as we have this discussion and sort of how we break some of the barriers around structural racism, um, that, that the, that the allies, uh, uh, that the allies and, and, and health law, you know, know, um, you know, you had, you have a strong role in this, um, and sort of mentoring talent, um, especially, uh, uh, uh, talent of color, you know, up into the, up into the ranks. It wasn't until I, I graduated from law school, or I would say, um, yeah, it wasn't until really, I, I was in my last year of law school, graduate from law school that I started, um, becoming a part of a community, um, where I saw more, uh, uh, lawyers of color, um, and they began to, to mentor me and, and adopt me. Um, and so, uh, I, I mentor, um, in fact, you know, uh, I'm not sure how we're posting this, but, um, you know, folks that are interested in sort of my journey in sort of transitioning from law to, uh, uh, to business and, and, um, uh, and other, uh, underrepresented populations, uh, in, in either the corporate setting, the healthcare setting, you know, look me up on LinkedIn, send me an email, uh, I am, uh, you gotta want it, right? And so, sometimes, you know, I, I'm a pretty direct and transparent person, um, and so I will, you know, so you, you gotta want it, or else don't waste anybody's time, right? Um, and, uh, as, as, as Cliff said, sometimes you've gotta reach out and grab it and then know what you want, right? To sort of sit there and go like, well, I don't know. And so it's sort of like, no, no, no. What do you want? Where do you want to go to? Um, and, and, and how can I help you, uh, get there? And if we talk about these things, you know, I, you can give some advice. Um, but it really is for the person who, you know, is driven to get to the next level, um, who can have somebody alongside with them to provide some of that social capital, uh, because it's not just a good, you know, uh, uh, warm conversation, uh, when I, not how I take it for professional mentoring. Yeah. It's, uh, we got, we got some place to go.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Ricardo hit a, a interesting point for me when you, you talked about you gotta go get it, and, um, one of my mentors actually, uh, uh, uh, bill Copt, again, white, white Jewish guy, uh, and, um, you know, he, when when we would talk, we would, he would talk about, you know, en en engagement with anybody. I is really about you doing the homework and getting your position. And this is even with clients and, and with discussions within the firm, is having your position and then speaking from your position, uh, and ask the question from your position, I'm thinking this and that because of this. What do you think? Uh, and so then people then know where you are and can talk about that position as opposed to, well, what's your view of the case? Uh, and, and, uh, and so, uh, it, it began to really become, uh, clear, uh, in a visceral way, how taking a position, uh, and then defending it. And it's not a question of right or wrong, it's your view based on this perspective and being open to understand different perspectives and incorporating them and adjusting, uh, and not being, uh, so egotistical about, right. And wrongness. Uh, and that's where, uh, I said earlier, I think I had a lot more ego before I, I think I say I don't know more now than I have ever since<laugh> ever in my life. You're getting, I'm, I'm saying I, I don't know, but I can figure it out,<laugh>, uh, whatever, it's, I can figure it out. Uh, but, uh, but I think I know less than I knew, uh, before in, in, in some ways. But, um, it is, it is about, uh, you know, understanding, doing the work you gotta do, the work you gotta commit, you gotta own it. Uh, and, uh, and, um, I think, um, uh, Ricardo, you can probably talk about this whole thing, cuz what they do very well in, uh, in corporations is you gotta own it. You know, the project that you got in law firms, you gotta own the project. Uh, it's yours, and you gotta be the master. You gotta know more than anybody about this. Uh, and, and, uh, and so that's something you gotta do. Uh, you gotta make that commitment to yourself. Uh, and then when people know that they feel that, that energy, then that becomes, then they're responding to that energy, oh, okay, you, you did your homework. Uh, and, uh, and then there's, there's a respect that occurs, uh, as well. Uh, and even if you don't, and again, it's not about right and wrong because you may not have seen some of the critical stuff, but if you are open, you can then figure that out as well. And that becomes the, that becomes the advantage, uh, and, uh, and the opportunity to be open, uh, uh, to understanding and getting more information, because it is about information.

Speaker 2:

You know, we're gonna be closing up in a few minutes, and I even, that last line really resonates both in the corporate world and in the law firm world. Are you open? Are you open to new information? Or are you open to new talent? And what I'm hearing is that a key to success in this post, George Floyd era, is for the corporate world and the law firm world to be open to new experiences, new talent, sources of talent, new ideas. And so let me ask, uh, both of you, uh, I'm gonna start with Ricardo. What practical suggestions do you have? And if you were gonna do a, just what would be the most important thing, the takeaway for companies and operators, uh, in the post George Floyd era? What, what needs to be done? And, and then what would you recommend that, you know, if you were the Zeus up on Olympus, and you could say, if you do this, you'll be more successful than you were in the past?

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So, uh, that's an interesting question. Uh, I don't know. You know, I don't know if, again, if I've got a silver bullet, but I would say, you know, the thing that, that for me is, um, you know, investing in talent development, right? That, uh, um, you're not always, because of what we know, um, exists in a structural way in the corporate setting, and in the, in the country at large, you're not always gonna find the perfect, uh, specimen, uh, for, for, for every role that you want to have into your company. So you've gotta develop your talent, right? You've got, and so investing in talent development, I think is incredibly important. And then obviously for individuals, as we think about these individual people of color, as we think about the post, uh, uh, George Floyd era, um, and we've been talking a lot about, from a career perspective, I'd say, don't miss this opportunity. Um, this is, this is a, uh, an opportunity right now. We sp sit in a moment of time where corporations at large are becoming more conscious and are being forced by crowds of people to become more conscious and are looking to dig in. So there's, you know, when I see moments like this, it's sort of, you know, when you're, when you're looking at investments, right? And you're trying to figure out what the next trend is gonna be, when I see moments like this, I think, okay, I, I, I may, I may really like the thing I'm doing right now, but here's an opportunity where I can, where I need to be going out and seeing what else is out there. Um, what, what else is, is opening up, um, right now. Um, because while I think this is hopefully a more permanent shift into focused on, uh, you know, making sure I understand the power of diversity and the power, uh, and the barriers that put, that put are put in place, um, it may just be a window in time, uh, um, right now. And so, uh, we should get out and seize it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I, I agree with Cliff. Yeah, exactly. I'm shooting over to you now. Yeah, I agree with, uh, uh, Ricardo. Uh, I would, I would add that, uh, the, in terms of the corporate world, the, the, i, I think clearly identifying talent, but, but I also think that, uh, to create, um, uh, environments for inclusion and because, uh, you know, in, and, and I think corporate worlds have to work at this. And, uh, environments of inclusion is really setting up working teams that are diverse. Uh, so that, uh, y y you know, where, where diverse ideas are required to be, um, uh, uh, uh, generated. Uh, because I think that that's where it, it's having the talent, but also, uh, having them, giving them the responsibility, including them, uh, so that those percolated ideas can come up to, to, to, to benefit the corporation. But I, I do think that it, it is a magic moment. Uh, there, there is an attention on, uh, uh, structural racism, uh, white supremacy that I, I, I think has not existed in the way that it exists right now. And I think the, the events of, uh, January 6th heightened that, uh, and, and to, because, uh, the, the, the world is as it has been, it's now bubbled up to the surface for us to see. Uh, but white supremacy and structural racism has been America. That's who America is. Uh, but it is now the ugliness of it is being viewed. Uh, and, and I think part because of the change in the demographics in this country, uh, and over time, it seems that this group of white supremacists, I mean, they are gonna remain, but they're gonna become a smaller and smaller minority. Uh, but they're going to, I, I think as they have, uh, engage in more, uh, in a destructive and, uh, desperate measures. Uh, and, and so I think that that in, in and of itself becomes an opportunity because, you know, there is, the opportunity is you are gonna be on one side, or you're gonna be on the other. It, you can't, uh, increasingly it's gonna be difficult to, to do nothing. Uh, silence is no longer, uh, a strategic, uh, move. Silence ultimately increasingly means that you are, you are with the white supremacist. So there is a need, there is a felt need, I think, uh, for people to, uh, uh, become, uh, a, a, a bit more, uh, uh, to take a position one way or the other. And so I think that, that, that in and of itself is creating an opportunity, and I think it will continue to create an opportunity, uh, you know, in the, in, in the corporate world. And that for minorities and black folks, I, I agree. This is the time, this is a moment in time. This is a catalyst at time. This is, this is a moment in time to, um, uh, to continue to heighten the contradictions, uh, because, uh, the, the reality of, in my view of racism and white supremacy is based on, uh, this, this, this notion, uh, that at one point in time is, was, was, uh, was part of, uh, law, was that, uh, black people particularly are less than human. Uh, and so with anybody who's less than human, you can do anything. Uh, and, and so that is the, that's the history of the relationships of in, in America, is that black folks have been treated as less than human. It is still the case today. Uh, and, and so, uh, and as we begin to look at that and look at the vestiges of that and the insanity of it, uh, we are beginning to, uh, and I think the corporate world is beginning to exercise its muscle, because when it says, well, I'm not gonna vest anymore money, people change. Uh, yeah. And, uh, and so, uh, it, it, it's a, it's a tremendous opportunity. And I think, uh, the same thing, uh, uh, uh, with, uh, with law firms, I think, uh, uh, law firms are fairly conservative. Uh, they reflect their, uh, clients. And so as the clients begin to say, I wanna see minority attorneys, then law firms have to jump and find minority attorneys. I, I, I tell a quick story about, uh, when, uh, I became partner, uh, and this was pre pictures, and, you know, there was no cell phones. And, and I, I became, uh, we, we, we, uh, we, we wrote a proposal for the, uh, it was, uh, uh, uh, a, a major, uh, health system in the Midwest. They were, they were, uh, uh, acquiring other, uh, facilities to become, uh, a multi-state, uh, hospital system. And so, uh, myself and another guy wrote a, uh, uh, a proposal. We were doing corporate work, and, uh, they sought proposals, and we got selected. Uh, and so they called us to go out there, uh, and it was in the Midwest. And, uh, I walk in the room and I say, I'm Cliff Barnes. And the guy looks at me and he puts out his hand, and he moves backwards,<laugh>,<laugh>. I mean, our hands just barely touched. He was moving back so far on the handshake. And, and I said, okay, well, this is probably not gonna go that good,<laugh>. So we went in, we had to interview. And, uh, needless to say, we didn't get that, uh, uh, task. And the guy that was with me, he said, cliff, what happened? I said, I'll tell you about it later.<laugh><laugh>. But, but, you know, it, it, um, it, it, you know, I mean, so the client, you know, clearly legal work is intimate work, because if you can't, if you don't think this person is human, you clearly can't take advice from that person. Uh, and, and, and so it, it, it, it requires, uh, a, uh, a levelness and, uh, an understanding, uh, in order to, to even have the relationship. And, and so clients become very, very important, uh, and, uh, and, and where corporations are. And so increasingly, you know, we've got a different kind of individual making those decisions. Uh, and, and I think, uh, as well, it's, it's the same thing now that we got pictures on everything. People who don't really wanna deal with minorities can make decisions right up front because they see the pictures. So, so, so, uh, and, and, and fundamentally, my view has always been my, I need to find people that wanna work with me, cuz the people who don't, that's their problem. Yep. Uh, and, and, uh, and, and so the universe is large when you're looking for, you know, you know what you're looking for. And, and, uh, and, and so we continue to do that. So, but, but I think that, um, that we're in a different place, uh, that kind of behavior, uh, I, I don't think would exist in, in, I know that doesn't exist in that health system anymore, cuz we actually, uh, about 10 years after that worked with them. Uh, and, uh, and so, but, but, but there was a time when that existed. Uh, and, uh, and in some instances it still exists. And, uh, we gotta continue, uh, to work, uh, around those people that, uh, uh, that, that have some conscious, uh, that, uh, you, you know, that, uh, that, that understand that, you know, we're, we are all in the human race.

Speaker 2:

The post George Floyd era really is a catalyst in time. It's a change in time, and it's a change for the world of health. Just healthcare, health law, corporate health, uh, wri large. Um, Ricardo and Cliff, I wanna thank you both so much for participating in this podcast. This has been, uh, an eye-opening thing. And, and even Cliff's last anecdote, uh, his partner didn't know what happened when you went and, and he had to turn around to, you would say, well,<laugh>, well, what happened, cliff, you knew, but he didn't know. We can address those things now, and that's what we're doing. So, uh, again, Ricardo Johnson, cliff Barnes, thank you so much. The title of today's podcast was Health Life after George Floyd, our guests were Ricardo Johnson from HealthWorks at Care. First Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cliff Barnes, partner at Epstein Green.