Ashley Garry’s path to practicing law within the pharmaceutical industry was influenced by more than just a professional interest. Garry was raised by his grandmother in South Carolina who, throughout his childhood, suffered from two main health conditions: muscular dystrophy and diabetes.
“For me, I look at the pharma industry and places like Eli Lilly that provide options for diabetics, and they are so critical because it would not have been possible for my grandmother to raise me, to prolong her life, or for me to even know her without these products,” Garry explains. “That planted a seed in me that this is a space worth fighting for and that there are really, truly good things happening in this field.”
Before arriving in his role as counsel for litigation and legal compliance at Eli Lilly, Garry did some investigations work, white collar crime work, and commercial shareholder demand work. “I had a number of things that I was interested in working on, but pharmaceuticals was really the focus for me,” Garry says. “I was really attracted to that type of litigation.”
Coincidentally, Garry visited Eli Lilly while in law school years before he would come to work for it. “I visited Lilly as part of a program for diverse law students to get some experience and to learn about the company, its culture, and how it operates,” he says. “I knew that I wanted to do pharmaceutical law after doing that program, and I had a great impression of Lilly.” So, after graduating from Cornell Law School and after court clerkship and law firm experience, he jumped at the chance to interview when an opportunity became at Lilly. A few weeks later, he relocated from DC to Indianapolis.
“We are committed to building a team that is diverse, a team that looks like the customers and patients we serve, and a team that reflects our company and the people we work with.”
“I came to this company because I really believe in the work that we’re doing in treating patients. The more that we can advocate for how our products work and how they treat patients, the more we can defend the merit of these products,” Garry says. “Given my family history with diabetes and the good work that this company is doing within the industry, those types of wins on the litigation side are very important to me.”
The products Lilly has provided diabetic patients has opened new pathways toward healing, helping them adjust to the major lifestyle changes that come with diabetes. That said, treatment and healing options that Lilly produces keep the entire person in mind.
“Our diabetes franchise is a place where we have been a pioneer and a leader for over a century now, and we have some great products, specifically Trulicity, which is a treatment for Type 2 diabetes,” Garry says. “I think that working in a place where employees are thinking about how to treat people holistically or different ways that our products can touch someone’s life gives a lot of purpose to our work, even on the litigation side. We’re in the business of making patient’s lives better.”
In addition to helping fuel the mission of Lilly from a pharmaceutical standpoint, Garry also strives to provide others with the opportunity to experience the company the same way he did as a student, by promoting the diversity and inclusion that runs deep within Lilly’s fabric. Garry specifically focuses on bolstering this mission through intentionality.
“When I think about D&I, I like to use the word ‘intentional,’ especially when it comes to our team and talking to our external partners,” Garry explains. “I think that D&I can be a struggle for some places because they are not intentional about how they do it. If you were as intentional about your diversity plan as you are about your business plan, or even half that, it might be easier for people to hit certain targets.”
Garry also places attention on how enhancing accessibility helps fuel D&I efforts. “I am always willing to work with our partners on diversity initiatives. I try to set the tone that struggling through an issue is not a failure or something to hide, if anything, I want people to be able to come forward so that we can use our resources and experiences to be helpful.
“[P]laces like Eli Lilly that provide options for diabetics are so critical because it would not have been possible for my grandmother to raise me, to prolong her life, or for me to even know her without these products.”
“It’s all about being intentional and having a team that is diverse,” he continues. “A diverse team is a high-functioning and high-performing team, and that’s where inclusion really comes in. It’s important that of that team, everyone feels like they can bring their whole self to work. To quote a senior leader here at Lilly, if people cannot bring their whole self to work, it’s not as if they don’t have good ideas, it’s just that you won’t have access to those good ideas.”
Garry believes that dedicated work is backed by both diversity and inclusion and getting people to be close to the work that they’re doing. “If you put people on a team, but you don’t give them work where they feel like they really get to do anything like have client access or brief senior management, for example, they won’t be close to their work. You have to place an emphasis on that and take time to get people involved.”
Garry strives to create an environment where people are not only comfortable but also reflective of the communities Lilly serves. “We are committed to building a team that is diverse, a team that looks like the customers and patients we serve, and a team that reflects our company and the people we work with.”
In March 2020, Garry joined ArTara Therapeutics, as senior counsel and corporate secretary. “I was attracted to ArTara because of the company’s focus on patient-centered drug development and reliance on diverse, inclusive, and high-performing teams,” he says. He is excited to continue his work advocating for patient-centered products while creating diversity and inclusion opportunities.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP:
“Ashley is a superb lawyer who is adept at quickly getting to the most important issues. We are honored to partner with him and all of our colleagues at Lilly.”
– David Lender, Global Co-Chair of Weil’s Litigation Department