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Nonprofit or government organization- Lisa Braun

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Associate General Counsel- Washington University, St. Louis

Lisa Braun didn’t always know she wanted to be an attorney.

She thought about it a little bit in high school, but by the time she got to college and was majoring in journalism, she was enjoying writing and thought her career path was set.

Then she got her first job after college, working for a small school in Chicago and writing its publications. She knew that wasn’t what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

“I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing… I wanted something more challenging, more interesting,” she said.

So, four years after earning her undergraduate degree, she went to law school. After graduating, she spent 11 years at private law firms, first at Lewis Rice & Fingersh, where she practiced primarily in healthcare and employee benefits, and then Thompson Coburn, where she concentrated in employee benefits.

Eventually, Braun, who by then had two children, decided she wanted to spend more time with them at night and on the weekends.

“I liked what I was doing, but I made a lifestyle decision,” she said.

She thought about going to work as an in-house counsel at a for-profit company, but after talking with a general counsel at Washington University, she went to a CLE about university attorneys. After hearing the talk, she knew it was what she wanted to do.

“Every aspect of it seemed very diverse and interesting to me,” she said. “It was a very conscious decision that I decided I wanted to come to this environment.”

She started at Washington University in 1999, where she focuses on healthcare and employee benefits.

The biggest difference she saw between private practice and serving as an in-house counsel at a university was diversity in her work.

“In the first few years that I was here there were antitrust matters that came up, I was setting up joint ventures, it was a lot of very interesting projects I got to work on,” she said.

The most challenging part, she said, is keeping up with the significant changes in law in healthcare and employee benefit laws and adapting to all the market changes.

“Academic medical centers like Washington University tend to be on the cutting edge of many of these changes and so it’s being able to work with the people here who are leaders and are always moving things forward, and being there to assist them in doing that,” she said.

Her colleagues note her skills in doing just that.

“Lisa exemplifies the virtues of a devoted, long-tenured in-house counsel,” said Monica J. Allen, vice chancellor and general counsel at Wash U. “She is a trusted advisor to the university and school of medicine leadership. They rely upon her not only to solve legal problems but also to engage in strategic planning efforts before a problem arises.”

Braun possess a “wealth of institutional knowledge,” Allen says, and her “contribution to the university’s school of medicine’s remarkable growth and success over the past two decades are voluminous.”

Outside of work, Braun spends time with her family that includes two sons in college, a daughter in high school and a daughter in fifth grade. She is a scout leader and on the board of her daughter’s high school.

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