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2020 In-House Counsel Awards: Alexander Bean

Rising Star

Director of Legal Services for Risk Management, BJC HealthCare

Alexander BeanSome kids grow up with dreams of being an astronaut, or perhaps a pro athlete or movie star. As the son of a Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard founding member, Alex Bean had a more singular vision.

“I’ve wanted to be a med-mal defense lawyer since I was a little kid,” said Ken Bean’s youngest, recalling family dinners at which the Bean siblings served as prospective jurors, or watching his dad meticulously study rolls of fetal monitor strips on the dining room floor.

The MICDS graduate earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and economics from the University of Richmond before returning home for law school at Washington University in St. Louis, his father’s alma mater.

Bean then joined Sandberg Phoenix, spending eight years as an associate on the firm’s medical malpractice defense team while working alongside his father, who continues to practice there as a shareholder.

Among the younger Bean’s hospital clients: Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the BJC HealthCare system, which he joined three years ago as director of legal services for risk management.

In that role, Bean manages claims and litigation for the system and its 15 hospitals, overseeing a five-person team as well as outside trial counsel. The shift from trial lawyer to in-house counsel also meant a shift in mindset, he said.

“As a litigator, it’s adversarial — you’re fixing problems after they happen,” he said. “Now, I measure success in helping to stop problems from happening, changing processes, talking to folks who can help us get to the bottom of problems.”

Whether from his early start, good genes, hard work or some combination thereof, Bean earned kudos from one senior colleague who labeled the 35-year-old as a “10-year lawyer with the knowledge and maturity of a lawyer with 20 years of experience.”

Fellow med-mal attorney John Mahon Jr. also cited Bean’s role in implementing new electronic claims-management and billing systems — pre-COVID-19 upgrades that now seem prescient.

“Without them, the necessary transition to a remote workplace would not have been as seamless or effective as it has been,” he said.

A father of three children under age 8, Bean stays busy outside of work coaching youth soccer and supporting City Academy, the school where his wife Jessica teaches. With his office in work-at-home mode until June, Bean is immersed in the daily balancing act familiar to working parents worldwide. The kids are back at school, but the early months of the pandemic remain memorable.

“I got to have lunch with them every day for six months,” he said. “I’d take my work break and go on a walk with my kids. That’s never going to happen again in my life.”