When Novartis announced its intention to spin off its generic and biosimilars company Sandoz in the summer 2022, the timing was perfect for Fahd Majiduddin. The intellectual property (IP) and litigation expert had spent nearly six years working as patent counsel in a role that he had mastered and was ready for a new level of litigation that the lawyer loves.
“The opportunity to join a company that was preparing to blaze its own trail was too good to pass up,” Majiduddin explains. “It’s a unique opportunity where an organization can really shape itself into what it wants to be in the industry. The existing legal team was relatively new, and I would have the opportunity to lead, build and get creative in refocusing our litigation strategies as a separate company.”
As senior IP litigation counsel at Sandoz, Majiduddin says that the working relationship with his colleagues is unlike any he’s experienced previously. Recently, he sat down with a colleague to discuss a legal issue that neither had encountered before. Taking the mindset of “what could it be” rather than “stay in line” mindset freed the two colleagues to better understand how to handle that issue and to generate a stronger solution.
“The openness of everyone here and—this might sound strange—the genuine enjoyment that people get out of learning something new are what I love about this company,” he says. “A lot of us are still in the early stages of getting to know the organization of today with an eye of what the organization can be in the future—you can feel that excitement to be part of something big.”
Staying Grounded with Family
Outside of his IP and litigation role, Fahd Majiduddin says that his family is everything. Whether it’s making sure his kids are shuttled to soccer practice or helping with homework, it’s the time to get his mind out of the theoretical and into the here and now.
“My eight-year-old’s dinosaur project is the most important thing in his life,” Majiduddin says. “It reminds me when I feel overwhelmed with the scope and importance of our priorities of today, I need to find a way to come back down to earth and focus on what matters most, and that may be in the Mesozoic Era.”
An important part of the culture is diversity, equity, and inclusion at Sandoz, and Majiduddin joined the organization with an intention to help Sandoz stand firm on its commitment. In his previous role, the attorney helped his organization partner with the Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Certification program, a broad effort launched in 2017 to boost the representation of diverse lawyers in law firm leadership.
When Majiduddin was interviewing at Sandoz, he says continuing that effort needed to be part of his job. “Sandoz already has many great programs in place that help create a culture that encourages everyone to bring their whole self to work; there is a welcoming culture for you to thrive. From within the legal department, we continue to push for diverse lawyers internally and when we vet our outside counsel and vendors,” he explains. “These are questions we ask up front and are transparent about where we stand, which is incredibly important.”
Majiduddin says that diversity goals have been an afterthought for far too long in the legal industry, and he’s glad to see companies like Sandoz willing to leverage their business to incur change.
Whether it’s a first-year associate or a long-tenured litigation expert, Majiduddin says there is one rule that has stood the test of time (and one he hopes more lawyers can internalize): “the work will get done.”
Explaining further, Majiduddin remembers scrambling to file a brief his first year as an associate. With a looming deadline and facing a whole slate of new issues for the first time, the attorney was at his wit’s end.
“I will never forget the senior associate that came up to me and just told me to take a deep breath and realize that, somehow, the work will get done,” Majiduddin recalls. “Not by magic or getting someone else to do it, mind you. What that really means is that I had gone through the training and had enough experience and judgment to know I could do it. I had to trust myself and trust others. The shortcut of ‘the work will get done’ is a rally cry and gives you the confidence that you can and will do it. With that confidence, anything is possible.”
The reason Majiduddin might be so determined to do what he loves is that he spent so long trying to figure out exactly what that was. The future attorney was initially working through a biochemistry PhD program that would, as Majiduddin explains, essentially meant working with the same enzyme or organism for the duration of his career.
Majiduddin was able to continue working in the lab while he applied for law schools, to the credit of his thesis mentor. To be clear, Majiduddin was writing his thesis and studying for the LSAT concurrently. After pivoting to earn his JD at Rutgers Law School, the lawyer would eventually find his calling in litigation.
“I didn’t get the job by accident. I made up my mind as to what I wanted to do, stayed the course to finish what I had started, while making the moves to be more in line with what I knew I would love to do,” he continues. “We can all apply this, regardless the path you choose. I really hope more lawyers can remember that in the moment when you question what you are doing.”
As far as preparation for a spin-off from a larger organization for Sandoz, the senior counsel goes back to his mantra: “the work will get done.” Alongside his legal team and the rest of the organization, Majiduddin is making great strides in the work required to spin-off and become an independent organization.
Like Majiduddin, the organization is excited to help shape what Sandoz will be as a standalone. Associates see the opportunity to be one of the future leaders to bring the company into its leadership position in generics and biosimilars—a unique opportunity today and in the future.
Polsinelli’s Hatch-Waxman Practice has experience working with some of the world’s largest, best-known and most influential generic and specialty pharmaceutical companies. Our multidisciplinary team relies on a deep bench of experience and technical expertise to assist clients every step of the way—from pre-filing to trial, appeal, and/or settlement. Learn more: polsinelli.com/hatch-waxman-litigation-opinion