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Seifter to become St. Joseph’s Hospital general counsel

By Journal Staff

Date:

SYRACUSE  —  Lowell Seifter will step down from the law firm that bears his name at the end of January and head to the hospital.

Seifter, an attorney and one of the founding members of Green & Seifter, Attorneys, PLLC in Syracuse, will not be in a patient’s room, though. He is joining St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center as general counsel.

“I’m excited about a new challenge,” says Seifter, who is giving up his place on Green & Seifter’s board of managers as well as his ownership stake in the practice. “The firm has gotten to a place where it’s strong and vibrant, and my departure will not hurt the firm.”

In his new role, Seifter will advise St. Joseph’s on issues such as corporate compliance, and mergers and acquisitions. He will also be responsible for establishing a system to help the hospital handle legal issues.

Seifter will not necessarily be reviewing every one of the hospital’s moves. St. Joseph’s has used various law firms to handle different situations in the past and plans to continue to do so.

“There will still be a great need for outside counsel,” Seifter says. “My role really will be to coordinate those services, make sure the right people are doing the work, and help the hospital interpret the advice that they’re getting from outside counsel.”

Green & Seifter, which is headquartered in 27,000 square feet of space at One Lincoln Center in downtown Syracuse, is one of the firms St. Joseph’s has worked with in the past. Seifter declined to discuss the legal issues the practice handled for the hospital.

Seifter says the new position fits with his legal expertise. His specializations include health care, commercial real estate, and business transactions.

 

Role at St. Joseph’s

St. Joseph’s is hiring Seifter in part because he has a good reputation among physicians, according to Kathryn Ruscitto, the hospital’s president and CEO.

“If you talk to physicians in the community, they all say the same thing about Lowell, which is he has a tremendous analytical mind,” Ruscitto says. “He understands physicians. And for me, having someone who can work closely with our medical staff was of primary importance.”

The hospital decided it was time to add a general-counsel position as it moves from being a large hospital to a health-care system that includes medical homes, physician practices, and post-acute care affiliations, Ruscitto says. The position will also be important to helping the hospital implement measures of the national health-care reform law, she adds.

St. Joseph’s is a 431-bed hospital and health-care system that provides services to patients from Onondaga County and 15 surrounding counties. Adding a general counsel brings it in line with many other medical systems in New York State, Ruscitto says. 

“We’ve done very well for years managing on our own, but we just got to the point where it made sense,” she says.

 

Future for Green & Seifter

Green & Seifter, Attorneys, PLLC will not change its name after Seifter leaves. It has developed brand recognition under its current name, says Laurence Bousquet, a managing member of the firm.

The legal practice is the successor to a law firm founded by Edward Green in 1961. Seifter became a named principal in 1981, and Green sold his share of the firm in 2001.

 Green & Seifter currently has 20 principals, including Seifter. It will have 19 principals after he departs.

One of those remaining principals will fill a seat Seifter will vacate on the law firm’s five-member board of managers, which is responsible for overseeing its operations. That principal has yet to be named, but will probably be chosen within a month.

The firm will not hire a new attorney to take Seifter’s place. Instead, different attorneys who currently work at the firm will start to serve his clients.

“This is a big opportunity for the younger attorneys,” Bousquet says. “It’s a very positive thing all the way around, and all of our partners have been very enthusiastic and supportive about Lowell’s move and what it means to the firm.”

Green & Seifter does hire new attorneys regularly as it grows, according to Bousquet. It typically hires one or two attorneys every year, and plans to continue hiring at that rate. 

The law firm employs 85 people, 31 of whom are attorneys. About 80 of its employees are full time, while five are part time.

Seifter will remain of counsel to Green & Seifter. That means he will maintain a relationship with the firm to help with a limited number of clients.

“You can’t just draw a line in the sand and have no further connection,” Bousquet says. “There are some clients where Lowell’s advice and work is still going to be required and desired.”

Green & Seifter worked with about 2,000 clients last year. Bousquet declined to share revenue totals, but said the firm will likely generate revenue growth of 3 percent to 7 percent in 2012.     

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