Paul Barringer: General Counsel for Common Good by LawCrossing


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									GC PROFILE                                                                                           1. 800.973.1177

                            Paul Barringer: General Counsel for Common Good
                            [By Kenneth Davis]
                            While working for his family’s business, Paul Barringer made the decision to enter the legal profession. His motivations sprang
                            more from a sense of practicality and necessity than from any deep aspirations to become a lawyer.

“My father died when I was 20, and we had the        is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson                system, as well as regulatory burdens, have
family fertilizer business in Sanford, North         Foundation, a prominent healthcare foundation.         impacted the abilities of teachers and principals
Carolina,” Barringer said. “And I found as                                                                  to lead schools and teach children.
we went through that process of trying to            “We’ve been reaching out to a lot of different
move on with the business that year that an          stakeholders around the country who have an            Barringer, who has been the general counsel
understanding of the law was really critical to      interest in patient safety, in healthcare quality,     for Common Good for two and a half years,
getting things done and realized that that skill     and liability reform to cultivate interest and to      discussed what attracted him to the organization:
and credential was something I really wanted to      generate support in this evolving idea,” said
have for myself.”                                    Barringer, who has provided testimony about            “It was my interest in healthcare quality and
                                                     the health-court proposal before Congress and          healthcare policy issues, coupled with an
Barringer now brings the same sense of               at the state level.                                    opportunity to do something in the advocacy
pragmatism to his job as General Counsel                                                                    area that’s also very entrepreneurial.”
for Common Good, a nonpartisan coalition             He said that the organization is also currently
dedicated to creating policy solutions to            working in the area of education in an effort to       Barringer went on quite an odyssey prior to
restore rationality and common sense to              build awareness of the ways in which the legal         joining Common Good. After he graduated
American law and policy.                                                                                    from high school, he spent a year in England.
                                                         Q. What are your hobbies and interests?            When he got back, he entered Davidson College
“We were set up a couple of years ago by                 A. I play the piano-mostly improvisational         in Davidson, North Carolina, where he pursued
Philip Howard, who was a lawyer and author               jazz. I grow apples-organic heirloom               an interdisciplinary major that focused on
and civic activist in New York City,” Barringer          apples. I ride my bike six miles to work           history and environmental history. Halfway
said. “He had written a couple of books in the           every day. That’s not really a hobby and           through his undergraduate studies, he took a
                                                         interest, but it’s something I do every day.
90s that got a lot of attention about the ways in                                                           year off to help with the family business. He
which the American legal system is distorting                                                               then returned to Davidson and resumed his
                                                         Q. What CD was most recently in your CD
public institutions and affecting individual                                                                education, earning his B.A. in 990. Following
behavior. And growing out of that, we’ve                 A. Keith Jarrett is my favorite piano
                                                                                                            graduation, he traveled on a grant to Nepal
undertaken several initiatives in education,             player. He’s awesome; that dude can play           and Bangladesh to conduct some research on
civil justice, and in healthcare.”                       some music. And I’ve always liked Dave             environmental issues.
                                                         McKenna. I also really like country music
Barringer said that in recent years, the                 because I’m from the country; I grew up            After returning from Asia, Davidson entered
organization has focused on promoting the idea           on a farm.                                         the University of North Carolina School of Law
of developing support for specialized courts                                                                at Chapel Hill but stopped midway through the
for medical-injury litigation. For the last few          Q. What’s the last magazine you read?              program to earn a master’s degree in public
                                                         A. North Carolina Wildlife.
years, Common Good has been working with the                                                                affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at
Harvard School of Public Health on the initiative        Q. What’s your favorite TV show?                   Princeton University. He then came back to the
to develop a proposal for what a system of               A. To the Manor Born and Entourage.                University of North Carolina and earned his law
health courts might look like. The initiative                                                               degree in 995. After graduation, he worked for

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GC PROFILE                                                                                            1. 800.973.1177

a short time at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he      the country in trying to bring about proactive       that allows you to make the switch from
concentrated on health-policy issues.               positive reforms to healthcare systems.”             working in a law firm environment to working
                                                                                                         in other environments.”
“And then I had a fellowship to go to the           Barringer said one of the people who has had a
University of Wellington in New Zealand for a       significant influence on him is Uwe Reinhardt,       Barringer was born and raised in Sanford, North
year, studying and working on health-policy         one of his graduate-school professors.               Carolina. He has been married for 0 years and
issues there,” Barringer said.                                                                           has two children, a boy (five) and a girl (one).
                                                    “Uwe Reinhardt is always inspiring from the
He earned a master’s in commerce and                standpoint of being just an incredible leader in     He discussed the professional goals he’d like
administration from the institution before          healthcare,” he said. “Dennis O’Leary of the         to accomplish in the next few years:
heading back to the states. Once he returned,       Joint Commission is fantastic, too. And there
he joined international law firm Hogan &            are a lot of people out there who are great in       “Well, certainly in connection with the work
Hartson in its Washington, DC, office. There,       healthcare. It’s my privilege, it’s an honor, it’s   that I’m doing right now, we’d like to continue
he practiced health law.                            a pleasure, it’s a lot of fun to work and interact   to raise the visibility of the health-court
                                                    with people that are just fantastic, really          proposal as a viable alternative in the medical
After working at the firm for a few years, he       smart, really committed, and really passionate       liability area,” Barringer said. “And I think
decided to go on a new adventure: he took a         about what they do.”                                 we’ve seen a lot of success with that, and we’ll
year off from law and hiked the Appalachian                                                              continue to do that.”
Trail, traveled to India, and bicycled across       Barringer, who works in Common Good’s
the United States. When he returned, he             Washington, DC, office, speaks frequently at         ON THE NET
joined Smith Anderson, LLP, in Raleigh,             conferences and events and represents the
North Carolina, and practiced health law.           organization’s perspective on health- and            Common Good
After working at Smith Anderson for about           legal-reform issues in media interviews. He
two years, he left to do healthcare consulting,     has published articles in the National Law
and in January 2005, he joined Common Good          Journal, American Outlook, the BNA Health Law        Harvard School of Public Health
as general counsel.                                 Reporter, and numerous other publications. 

Barringer discussed what he enjoys most             He had the following advice for students             Hogan & Hartson
about his job at Common Good:                       interested in pursuing in-house careers:   

“Well, I have a passion for healthcare-quality      “I think it’s a good idea to study hard and learn
and healthcare-policy issues,” he said. “And it’s   as much as you can in school. And it’s also a
a lot of fun to work with different people around   good idea to get really substantive experience


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