At Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), employees are driven by a single vision: transforming patients’ lives through science. Teams work with urgency to discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines because they know patients are waiting.
Eric Merin, assistant general counsel for global medical, capabilities, and development at BMS, understands the frustration and the heartbreak patients and their families face as they wait for relief from fears and burdens of illness. During college, Merin’s mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s that prevented her from attending his law school graduation and then his wedding. The disease ultimately took her life before the birth of his son.
“I have seen firsthand someone with an illness where there are limited—arguably no—treatment options,” the attorney explains. “I’m driven at work by the patients who are waiting for the solution.”
Since joining the law department at BMS in 2018, Merin has had the opportunity to guide the business on what’s best for patients. He has spent most of his working almost exclusively with oncology teams, playing a critical role in enabling innovation and decision-making for the good of patients.
Recently, in addition to his daily responsibilities, Merin is helping to hire a manager for the Law Department Early Career Program (LECP)—a new initiative to identify, recruit, and develop diverse young professionals. “This role is about working with my colleagues every day to create a pipeline that is powerfully diverse, non-traditional and empowered to make meaningful contributions to the law department and BMS’s mission to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines,” he says.
The two-year rotational program was designed by members of BMS’s law department to help professionals early in their careers gain valuable, diversified experience. Employees enrolled in the program rotate through the law department’s practice areas and functions. At the end of the program, they can continue their BMS career within the law department in a non-rotational role.
“At BMS, we make sure our people have transformative experiences to learn, grow and lead,” attests Merin. “It’s critical that we sustain an environment where the power of diverse experiences drives innovation for patients as well as career success and advancement for these colleagues. BMS is a place where all voices are heard, and the best ideas are brought to the table with the right level of influence.”
Launched in the summer of 2022, LECP got off to a great start with six employees actively participating in the 2022 to 2024 cohort. These lawyers and legal professionals were chosen outside of the traditional hiring pipeline, which Merin appreciates.
The lawyer’s parents did not have graduate degrees and worked multiple jobs, including sewing window treatments in his family’s basement. His decision to become a lawyer might seem like a great generational leap, but the lawyer feels that his career choice aligns with the values he learned from his family.
“Before my grandfather passed away, I used to talk a lot with him about his experiences surviving the Holocaust,” Merin remembers. “During those conversations, we spoke about hard work, but also that you must try to use whatever power you have in life to make an impact. Being a lawyer is no different. We have this awesome license that can help people, and we should never forget that.”