Sheva Sanders: A Bold Pioneer For Women In Law

Sheva Sanders

Sheva Sanders is a partner at Stinson Leonard Street LLP, where she is valued for her knowledge of the health care industry, dedication to her clients and more than 30 years of experience as a woman in law. Sanders advises health care, managed care, medical device, pharmaceutical, life sciences, and pharmacy benefit management clients on complex regulatory issues, including fraud and abuse, compliance, reimbursement and transactional matters. She is also a foremost educator in her field who both writes and speaks on health law and health policy matters, and in 2003, she was named an AdvaMed Achiever for her role in drafting the AdvaMed Code of Ethics.

Sanders developed her practice in a way that was unusual for her generation of women lawyers, boldly pioneering a work model that is now being accepted throughout the industry. “While my children were young, I worked part time. That model was not embraced, and I had to fight like the dickens at a prior firm to get a part-time position. I didn’t go full time until my kids went to college. But I always went in every day and worked very hard so that there was never more than an afternoon when I was not accessible. With the technology available now, there is no reason why you can’t be responsive from wherever you are, and I don’t think that’s an issue for clients.”

Sanders came to her passion for the health profession through her father, who was a physician. The tradition carries on in all three of her children, with a son who is completing his MBA and working in pharmaceutical sales consulting, another son will be attending medical school, and a daughter, who will soon graduate from law school and join her in practicing in the health law field. “It’s interesting to think about how it is going to be different for Mara. I think her generation is so different from mine in terms of a social expectation that both parents take equal responsibility for child rearing. She has much more agency than I had as a young woman. But there is still work to be done. Law firms in general haven’t quite figured out how to manage the demands on young women who have young children. I hear people talking all the time about the drain of women out of law firms. I think it’s a function of the fact that we still haven’t quite adapted to the reality that having children takes time.”

Stinson has been named a Working Mother Best Law Firm for Women and is Gold Certified by Women in Law Empowerment Forum. The firm prides itself on taking a proactive stance on diversity and inclusion, with policies that support and promote women in both practice and leadership. Sanders joined Stinson in 2011, where her husband, Tom Sanders, is also a partner. “Stinson has a longstanding commitment to diversity,” she said. “In the 1950s, this firm hired Irene Scott, the first woman lawyer to be made a partner by a private law firm in Minneapolis. Stinson has many diversity initiatives, and it is gratifying to practice in an environment where there is respect and collaboration among colleagues of both genders.”

Sanders previously spent three years at Medtronic as senior regulatory counsel, and she brings a high level of relatability to the in-house counsel she advises in health law. “The companies I work with tend to have big and sophisticated legal staff that is heavily female. Working as in house counsel myself has helped me to understand how legal advice is implemented inside a company and how important it is to move from ‘here’s what the law says’ to ‘here’s what you should do in response to that.’ I enjoy working in a capacity where I can help other women to succeed professionally.”

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