“A Cause That Is Bigger Than Me”

Jim Schindler, senior vice president, assistant general counsel at Masimo, helps lead a medical technology company more interested in saving lives than earning huge profits

Soon after leaving law school, Jim Schindler discovered that he didn’t like the traditional practice of law. So he spent the early part of his career at a financial counseling firm advising clients on their investments. Then, when he moved into private practice, Schindler mostly advised clients in contract disputes and that wasn’t satisfying either. “In private practice, I felt like a mercenary, doing things on request with not much significance in the broad scheme of things,” he says. The financial industry and private practice were just about making money, he felt, and that was not something that he could get passionate about. “I always felt I should work for a cause that is bigger than me,” he says.

That cause, he found, was healthcare. Now, as a senior vice president and assistant general counsel at Masimo, a global medical technology company based in Irvine, California, Schindler believes wholeheartedly in the company’s mission and in his work helping save lives.

Jim Schindler, Masimo

Most important to Schindler, he says Masimo genuinely cares about patients. “That comes from Joe Kiani, its founder,” he says. Kiani founded Masimo in 1989 as a “garage” start-up. Kiani built a device that improved the measurement of the oxygen saturation of arterial blood. Today, Masimo is publicly traded and employs more than four thousand people worldwide. Not only does Masimo sell its own patient monitors, it also licenses its technology to work inside other monitoring devices from a host of manufacturers—including GE, Philips, Zoll, and many more—to ensure its life-saving technology gets to as many patients as possible.

“Joe turned down lucrative offers for his technology early on because of his concern that the technology would be buried by the buyer and not see its way to patients. I admire that passion,” Schindler says. Kiani is opening up Masimo’s technology platform to other device companies so patients can benefit from increased connectivity and the sharing of data between medical devices—in essence, sharing some of its intellectual property freely with its competitors.

Since Schindler joined the company in 2011, revenues have almost doubled from around $400 million to 2018’s projection of around $760 million. Schindler believes he has helped with the growth because he and his department understand that just informing Masimo’s executive team about the law is marginally helpful. Instead, he says his department is involved in the business, understanding its products, business model, and goals so his team can provide pragmatic advice that Masimo can use right away. Sometimes, the proposed path to the business goal is not the legally less risky path. “Masimo trusts us to think creatively and suggest other paths that can be taken to achieve business goals with less risk,” he says.

Currently, the biggest project on his team’s plate is preparing Masimo to be compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation requirements. The EU law goes into effect May 2018 and requires companies to give an individual much more control over the collection, processing, use, transmission, and storage of their personal information. He says this affects every aspect of the company’s business, including its products, IT systems, website, HR systems, entity management systems, customer and vendor contracts, marketing, and even facilities. “With no one functional owner of the data protection function or any department that clearly would own such a project, our legal department has owned this project,” he says. The legal team is learning about the requirements of the regulations, how data comes into the company, what it’s used for, where it’s stored, and how the company’s systems work in order to recommend changes, processes, and procedures that comply with the law. “And the advice has to be practical so that the business isn’t left wondering what must be done, and actionable in that our recommendations can be used right away by the business,” he says. “We view this as a critical project for the continued growth of the company, not just because the fines are quite high for noncompliance but also because Masimo’s customers are going to require—in fact, some are already requiring—that Masimo’s products help them comply with the requirements.”

As a leader, Schindler tries to help his team members reach their potential by bringing each individual’s strengths to the forefront. “I tell my team that they need to tackle a project from their own perspectives,” he says. “I don’t want them trying to complete a project from my perspective or how I would do it because that’s a recipe for failure. They aren’t me, and their perspectives are valid and valuable.”

His job, he says, is to guide them to a stronger result. When a team member brings a project to him or asks questions along the way, he challenges them. “I ask them whether they thought of this or that issue,” he says. “I ask them the assumptions underlying their work product so that we can discuss whether they are the right ones based on our collective experience or knowledge.”

Ultimately, that results in team members who feel empowered to make decisions on their own and to become confident advisers to the business, he says. “It’s much more efficient in getting things done,” he says. “This allows the legal department to provide quality support to a rapidly growing and expanding company in a highly regulated industry using a legal team that is smaller than that of many companies our size in this industry.”

Schindler is especially proud of Masimo’s support for the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, which has the goal of ending preventable deaths in hospitals around the world. Masimo has embraced the challenge and is doing its part to help and work with other medical device companies to resolve the inability of medical devices to talk to each other, share the valuable data all these devices generate, and have the devices work together to give a clinician a true and better picture of a patient’s health. “When Joe began hearing stories of people who were dying from preventable causes, he and Masimo set out to do something about it and get other entities, like medical devices companies, hospitals, and governments around the world, to work together to end this problem,” Schindler says. “Masimo’s mission is bigger than just making money. Its mission is to help patients. I see it every day, and it lets me work for a bigger cause than me.”

Specializing in real estate and employment law, Stuart Kane LLP is proud to work with healthcare industry clients like AccentCare, Cognizant TriZetto, Crossover Health, DexCom, InTouch Health, and St. John’s Health.  Real estate partner Josh Grushkin is grateful to Jim Schindler and the Masimo team for the opportunity to be of service. 

Yulchon is a full-service international law firm headquartered in Seoul, Korea, with a broad client base comprised of major domestic and foreign companies, including many Fortune 500 companies. By delivering innovative solutions to complex challenges that face today’s businesses, Yulchon continues to be on the cutting edge of legal practice.