After long and fruitful private practice experiences, law students are often taught that in-house roles may often follow. That’s the case for Alex DuPuis—it just happened at a pace that might leave a lot of law firm associates scratching their heads at how quickly the lawyer was able to transition in-house.
The vice president of legal at Amedisys, a home healthcare, hospice, palliative, and high-acuity care services care company operating in thirty-seven states and Washington, DC, wasn’t looking for an in-house role. She didn’t even work in healthcare. She had negotiated exactly one business associate agreement, but was otherwise heavily involved in wide-ranging legal work, primarily in the transportation industry.
However, the nature of that work and DuPuis’s upbringing sheds some light on why her move in-house (and three subsequent promotions over the last seven years) have been so successful.
DuPuis credits much of her childhood for her career success. “My mom was an incredibly hard worker in anything she did,” the lawyer reflects. “She was always the best student, often to a fault. I think she naturally instilled that in me. I didn’t need a lot of pressure to study or get my work done. I’m not one of those people who come by a natural brilliance. I know I need to study a lot, do my homework, and be prepared.”
That self-discipline made DuPuis essentially unafraid of failure because she inherently knew that she would do whatever it took to make sure she was the best in the room, the best in the interview, and the best for the job.
The VP also understands the value of building and maintaining relationships. Her legal team’s current senior vice president, and personal friend, was a former mentor at her old firm and recruited DuPuis to join Amedisys. The partner who interviewed her for that law firm job would also wind up officiating her wedding. In fact, he interviewed the man who would become her husband and father of her two children.
The variety of work DuPuis handled in private practice prepared her for going in-house whether she knew it or not. She didn’t say no to anything. When her mentor came to Amedisys, he knew the organization was seeking out a newer lawyer who would be able to grow along with the expanding company. They wanted someone who was hungry to learn and grow; they wanted DuPuis.
It was a wise pick at the right time. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that seven out of ten Americans say they would prefer to die at home, and the healthcare industry has followed suit. With the ever-increasing numbers of elderly in the greater population, those polled demonstrated an overwhelmingly positive view toward living out their final days in familiar surroundings.
Having not come from a healthcare practice, DuPuis did what she does best: she did her homework. She read dense Medicare policy manuals and industry publications, and she continues to research heavily to this day. DuPuis put in the work she needed to ensure that she would be successful in her role.
Pick It Up
Alex DuPuis may be one of the youngest VPs you know, but when it comes to communicating, she’s wise beyond her years. Although a lost art to a healthy portion of millennials and Gen Z, she attests talking on the phone remains crucial for getting the proper context of a question, issue, or request.
“You can read a lot into emails or texts that isn’t necessarily there,” she explains. “There’s no harm in talking it out with people, especially if you haven’t yet established those relationships where you know where they’re coming from.”
The common lament of, “This meeting could have been an email,” doesn’t apply to conversations that rely on nuance, understanding, and two-way communication—especially in an environment where hybrid work is increasingly common.
Sometimes, the old ways just work better.
“The best thing an in-house attorney can do is to learn as much possible about the operations of the business so you’re able to understand the needs of your internal clients,” she says. “The more proactive you’re able to be, the more you can set people up for success in a way to mitigate risk and ensure those people will return to you the next time they need guidance.”
The small-but-mighty legal team at Amedisys has a sterling reputation for finding the best way forward. The answer can’t always be an unqualified yes, but DuPuis says what sets her team apart is the way they work to find the right solution together with stakeholders.
Those stakeholders have continued to shift as the organization has expanded. In 2021, Amedisys acquired home-hospital company Contessa Health for $250 million. DuPuis was responsible for most of the regulatory due diligence leading up to the transaction and wound up taking over general counsel duties for that company when the position was vacated.
“Taking the lead on Contessa has afforded me the opportunity to get involved in some leadership summits and continue to learn a lot about their care model, which is new for us,” DuPuis explains. “Every year here, there’s something new that I get to learn and master. I never feel like it’s thrown at me. I get to develop my practice in areas that I find interesting, and it always feels like it’s the right time.”
That’s probably humility on the accomplished attorney’s part. For her, the right time for a new developmental opportunity seems like any time. She’s risen so quickly that her dedication and hard work can be overlooked in her ascension. DuPuis says she wouldn’t be where she is without the mentors, friends, and mother who instilled that can-do work ethic.
But that unwillingness to fail, that’s something else. She’ll have to take credit for that one way or another.
With more than five hundred attorneys in thirty-seven offices across the US, Fisher Phillips is a national labor and employment firm providing practical business solutions for employers’ workplace legal problems. Members of the firm’s healthcare team are longtime trusted advisors to industry employers looking to maintain safe and productive work environments while maximizing legal compliance. The firm regularly advises clients on issues surrounding wage and hour, employment discrimination and harassment, litigation, workplace safety, immigration, labor relations, data security and workplace privacy, trade secrets and non-competes, and more. Our attorneys stand ready to help with any aspect of your workplace law needs.
As a leader in home health and hospice care, Polsinelli is confident that Amedisys will continue to grow its nationwide footprint and expand their delivery of high quality, patient-driven care. Amedisys is a trailblazer in the industry and our relationship spans more than 8 years. The breadth and scope of services we provide continues to expand and we currently provide regulatory analysis and support for nearly all of Amedisys’ acquisitions, joint ventures, and related corporate transactions. We look forward to continuing to serve as a trusted partner for Amedisys.