corporate counsel

Keith Smith, Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte

When I was in high school and college, I was lucky enough to have some fairly varied job experiences, from loading trucks to installing feeding, watering and heating systems in poultry houses. For two summers, I was a short-order cook. The work was fast-paced, and I came to appreciate the interdependence of one person’s job with another’s. I initially assumed the cooks had complete control over the flow of the kitchen, but over time I learned about the control the wait staff has over the pace of orders sent to the kitchen and how quickly completed orders are cleared to make room for new orders. My first assessment, although not completely wrong, was made hastily and was incomplete. As a lawyer, I try to be mindful of the importance of listening, observing and collecting sufficient information before drawing conclusions and offering advice.

Vita: Born March 25, 1968, in Stoneham, Mass.; bachelor’s and law degrees from Duke University; wife and daughter. Why he chose this field: I was drawn to health-care regulatory work for two reasons: because I liked the idea of providing legal counsel to organizations that exist to help people and because the legal work is challenging. What he’d be if not a lawyer: I would still be in some kind of service business. Memorable moment: One highlight was when the outgoing president of the medical staff, during a dinner in his honor, announced that his work with me and the other lawyer who advises the staff had caused him to change his assumption that all lawyers should be avoided. Passions: Being physically active, running marathons, triathlons. Don’t ask him to: Spend too much time away from my family.