Navigating the Complex: A Conversation with Elizabeth J. McEvoyMarch 17, 2021
Elizabeth McEvoy assists businesses and individuals in navigating complex, and often highly-regulated legal matters, both criminal and civil. Her experience includes negotiating pre-litigation resolutions, complex commercial litigation, and representing individuals and entities under institutional or government scrutiny, and in responding to government inquiries. She specializes in disputes and potential criminal exposure arising in the research integrity and healthcare sectors.
Here, she tells us about her career path, most interesting research misconduct cases and the importance of firm’s not only hiring more female attorneys, but also retaining them.
HA: What was your path to Hinckley Allen?
EM: After law school, I spent two years working for two different appellate judges in Massachusetts and I really enjoyed that experience. I knew I wanted to practice civil and criminal law, and that led me to Barrett & Singal. I had the privilege to work alongside some incredible people who are now my colleagues at Hinckley Allen. I found the research misconduct cases I began working on so fascinating, on a number of levels: One was that the research was real, groundbreaking research. Often we deal with scrutiny of cancer research, for example, or allegations of fabricating published data results used to get Federal funding. With every case we work on, I learn that there can be devastating consequences when research isn’t administered properly.
While I am fairly new to Hinckley Allen, something that has really struck me is how often and how genuinely so many people—especially women—have asked me how they can help me get integrated at the firm and grow my own practice. There’s just a very collaborative energy within the firm. It leads me to believe that I will forge several significant relationships here.
HA: Tell us about a research misconduct case you’ve worked on that was particularly exciting.
EM: One of the most exciting cases I’ve worked on is actually ongoing. Our team is representing a tenured faculty member from a very prominent medical college, who is facing scrutiny for past connections to a foreign talent program several years ago. These types of international collaborations and relationships were fairly commonplace among scientists; However, in 2018 and 2019, they received heightened attention when the Trump Administration and FBI began to crack down on China. This investigation is largely born from those political pressures. The client now faces tenure revocation and career-ending consequences. To me, this case underscores how institutions face real concerns in this political environment. They need to protect themselves, but there are various options available to them short of isolating the “wrongdoer.”
HA: Given that it’s Women’s History Month, can you tell us about some of your female role models?
EM: My mother has been a huge role model for me my whole life. She was a lawyer and also had three kids, and she was really good at doing things that didn’t fit within the model of having a regular 9-5 job. She helped found a dedicated child abuse unit for the District Attorney’s Office where she worked when I was growing up. It was something she felt so passionate about as a prosecutor. I realize now, as a lawyer and a mother myself, what a tremendous effort that was for her.
HA: From implicit bias to institutional roadblocks, there’s a gender gap in the legal field. What insights can you share about the importance of promoting and retaining female lawyers?
EM: To be perfectly candid, the legal world has a lot of work to do in terms of elevating its female attorneys. It’s been a slow ride to have women in true leadership positions, being the principals of their firms. Particularly in the field of white collar litigation, there just aren’t enough of us. That void isn’t just a problem for women: It’s a problem for the legal profession as a whole. Giving female attorneys a seat at the table isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity. We’re able to provide clients with a much better viewpoint across the board when we offer a diverse array of experiences and perspectives.
There’s also the challenge of being a working parent, which is a huge challenge and is often harder on women. I’ve been through two maternity leaves in a relatively short period of time, and the transitions have been among the hardest obstacles I’ve faced so far in my career. This shouldn’t the case. There needs to be a lot more support for mothers, and all parents, at all companies. If we can make it just a little bit easier for women to stay in the game, everyone wins.