Making Legal an Equal Business Partner at LEO Pharma

How Tiffany Christian has helped in-house legal become a key stakeholder at global skincare company LEO Pharma Inc.

LEO Pharma Inc. is constantly looking for new ways to help people with skin conditions. At its US operations headquarters in Madison, New Jersey, Tiffany Christian leads an in-house legal team that is increasingly integral to that mission.

Christian joined Denmark-based LEO Pharma in 2013 after working for several New York-area law firms and as counsel for pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott in Rockaway, New Jersey.

“I wanted an environment where I would be challenged and would feel like I was making a difference,” says Christian, who oversees and manages all legal activities for LEO Pharma’s US operations. “When I joined the company, I was told that I would gain exposure to a myriad of areas of the law. That was important to me. Subsequently, I was given the opportunity to lead the small legal department.”

“It’s critically important that people consider their in-house lawyers as their business partners.”

The job has been everything Christian hoped it would be. In terms of meaningful work, the company has given her new insights into the struggles the end users of its treatments go through.

“I now have a deeper understanding of various types of skin conditions, which I find interesting,” she says. “It definitely gives you a new perspective on how skin conditions can affect different people. I didn’t just learn about products; I learned about people and how they manage their skin conditions.”

As far as breadth of responsibilities, Christian does a bit of everything. She counsels company leaders on FDA laws and regulations, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the False Claims Act, and the PhRMA Code in connection with product labeling, promotional activities, marketing strategies, sales training, compensation, and speaker bureaus, among other things.

Christian also counsels on advertising and promotional materials, training materials, press releases, and similar pieces. Among her various responsibilities, she enjoys this the most because of her previous experiences serving on promotional review committees.

LEO Pharma’s NYC Pop-Up

One of things Tiffany Christian likes most about working at LEO Pharma is its focus on helping people. Last November, LEO ran a two-week pop-up shop in New York City to create awareness of skin health issues and celebrate the beauty of all skin.

“Up to that point, I’d never heard of the pop-up shop concept,” Christian says. “I think it was another way LEO demonstrated its commitment to people. It was a nice way to reinforce that all skin is beautiful, and I think people who were there had a good time and enjoyed what it was.”

That’s far from all she covers, though. Christian advises the Scientific/Medical Affairs department on communications, publications, continuing education, grants, and medical presentations. She also collaborates with LEO Pharma’s people and communications department on employment-related matters, manages outside counsel, and drafts and negotiates contracts. Additionally, she trains fellow employees on legal and compliance-based topics.

No two days are alike for Christian, which keeps her fully engaged. To get everything done requires exceptional time management skills. Fortunately, she learned those skills during her time at law firms.

“When you work in law firms, there are bill-by-the-hour requirements and you have multiple clients,” Christian says. “I learned that if you’re not going to get something turned around quickly, you need to let the person know when to expect it. Be transparent with what your capabilities are.”

That said, Christian maintains a service-oriented approach that is inherent in the law firm world. That’s not always the case for in-house legal teams, which is why Christian reinforces the client-first mentality for herself and her team.

“I’m here to assess risk and help the company move forward with initiatives in a compliant manner,” she says. “My goal is not only to protect the company, but also help it grow.”

Gaining the trust of employees in all the other departments she works with is crucial. Christian is careful of the perception she and her team have at LEO. She says there is an overarching belief that all in-house lawyers are there to stifle ideas, but that is simply not the case.

“It’s critically important that people consider their in-house lawyers as their business partners,” Christian says. “We help them understand how to achieve goals in a compliant manner. If that’s their perception, they’re more apt to involve you in the conversations earlier, and that can only help me do my job.”

Again, Christian recalls learning this lesson early in her career, when she was a junior associate at a law firm and was given a research assignment by one of the partners. She spent many hours researching and drafting a fifteen-page memo for the client.

“When I gave it to the partner, he asked whether I thought the client wanted fifteen pages of various reasons why he couldn’t do what he wanted to do,” Christian says. “That changed my mind-set. Now, I always look at situations with a solution-oriented approach. Maybe we can’t do it this way, but here are the alternatives to get you as close to your ultimate goals as possible.”

Thanks to that approach and Christian’s ability to juggle so many different legal responsibilities, LEO Pharma has been able to work within legal parameters to expand its reach helping those with skin conditions. For her, that makes all the effort worthwhile.