When Alexander “Aly” M. Kayne joined Omnicare as general counsel in 2011, the Fortune 400 firm was outsourcing most of its legal affairs to a number of law firms. “The company grew so fast, largely by acquisition, that it didn’t have time to catch up,” says Kayne, who had just one paralegal working in-house with him at the time. Within three years, Kayne increased Omnicare’s legal team to a staff of 12 attorneys with experience in litigation, commercial law, health-care regulation, and contracts. “I knew we needed a robust legal department, given that we’re a health-care company serving the elderly, which is a highly regulated environment, and we’re still very acquisitive,” he says.
Kayne’s first task was immersing himself in all aspects of the business to see what legal services the company required. “I burned both ends of the candle trying to do it all during that period, and it was invaluable in educating me on what my team needed to look like: who I needed, how many attorneys, what specialties,” he says. After that, the networking began. “Coming from a big firm environment, I know a lot of lawyers, so I reached out to a lot of people to see if they were interested in leaving private practice to come in-house,” Kayne says.
One challenge was getting people to move to the Omnicare headquarters in Cincinnati. “I needed team members based in Cincinnati, which meant people had to move,” Kayne says. “In the end, it was both a challenge and a selling point, because most of my team members have families, and I pitched how Cincinnati is a great place to raise a family.”
Another focus of Kayne’s sales pitch to prospective employees was the company itself. “I had to convince them that the plunge to come in-house was a positive for their career, not a negative,” he says. “I explained it this way: You can work in private practice, representing various clients for the rest of your life, or you can decide to pitch yourself with one team. And if you’re going to do the latter, Omnicare is a great business with a great future in a great area of health care.”
Kayne’s first two employees were former colleagues at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the New York-based law firm where Kayne was working when he was hired. “I anchored someone on the litigation side and someone on the commercial side, and from there, the hiring snowballed,” Kayne says. “I purposely sought people who were intelligent and collegial, such that when it was time to hire the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth person, candidates were able to say, ‘This is a great team of people to work with.’”
Road to Omnicare
Aly Kayne graduates from Yale Law School, where he served as a member of Yale’s law review.
Kayne’s first position has him clerk for US District Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie.
Kayne joins Dewey Ballantine LLP and rises to partner in the firm’s New York litigation department, honing his legal skills working for clients that included Omnicare.
Omnicare asks Kayne to serve as its interim general counsel, where he is assisted by a sole paralegal.
Kayne hires three associate general counsels, two in litigation and one in corporate law, to buff up the company’s legal team.
After Kayne had a team of associate general counsels with expertise in litigation, corporate law, and employment law, he began building out the structure below them, adding specialists in different areas. “Wherever I saw a need, I looked for a subject-matter specialist, such that within corporate, we hired a Securities and Exchange Commission specialist, a regulatory contracts lawyer, and a general transactional lawyer,” he says.
The result is a team that’s highly valued throughout Omnicare. “My team has flourished not just in my department, but in the company, where they’re respected and sought after for advice in business meetings, and there’s a reason for that,” Kayne says. “They were talented lawyers externally before they came in-house—and by that I don’t just mean that they have analytical minds, but that they’re good at being counselors for their clients.”
Today, Kayne and his team face the challenges of Omnicare’s unique legal requirements together. “We do it the right way or not at all, and that takes a lot of work. It’s not just about advising; we have to ensure that our advice is being carried out.”
It’s work that inspires Kayne. “[Being] general counsel is like holding an office, like mayor or governor, where you serve for a term, during which you bring smart hardworking folks into your shop,” he says. “In that position, starting from a nucleus of people I was able to help create, we are really able to move the needle on an important cause—improving health care for a select group of people with an end product that services the elderly and infirm. There’s a great amount of pride that goes into that, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”