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Coyne finds a healthy career path

When St. Mary’s Hospital about two years ago needed to restructure its medical staff responsibilities and the corresponding bylaws, it tapped attorneys Sarah Coyne and Kevin Eldridge to help.

The Madison hospital’s goal was to create a system that better served patients and presented more leadership opportunities to key employees. It was a large project, Coyne said, and it boiled down to an electronic vote that could have gone either way, considering the significance of the proposed changes.

“We were nervously waiting to see if our months of work would pass,” said Coyne, a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP. “When they did, it was a really fine moment. It’s been a continuing pleasure to see it unfold.”

Coyne “is truly a member of the St. Mary’s family and a valued member of our leadership team,” said Dr. Frank Byrne, the hospital’s president.

And that type of response, Coyne said, explains why she has focused her work on health law: the chance to help clients solve even the most complicated problems.

The job also lets her lead a team of lawyers, five of whom she mentored. Her firm has honored her as a star mentor three times, making her the only Quarles & Brady attorney to be recognized that often for her dedication to mentorship.

Coyne had worked in litigation for three years when the firm suggested she switch to health law. That was in the late 1990s, when the health law was starting to emerge as a bustling concentration.

“I decided to give it a try,” she said, “and just fell in love with it.”

Since that time, Coyne has been a key player in weighty public-policy initiatives. She has developed expertise in electronic medical records, prompting an invite to join former Gov. Jim Doyle’s eHealth Initiative Privacy and Security Task Force.

She also has worked on HIPAA Collaborative of Wisconsin, an organization dedicated to helping health care providers comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The switch to health law, she said, turned out to be exactly what she was looking for.

“I really liked the idea of becoming an expert in an area,” she said, “whereas with litigation, you start with a fresh slate with every new case.”


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