How to Build Your Career to Be a GC in a Niche Industry

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on October 23, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, this was merely a general post announcing the appointment of Robyn Diaz, JD, as their chief legal officer. For prospective in-house attorneys, it is much more. Reading about Diaz's education and experience is like reading a case study in how to shape your career to eventually become a GC in a niche industry.

She didn't just know that she wanted to be a lawyer -- she knew her interests were specifically within the healthcare industry. Here are four things we gleaned from her background, that can show you what you can do to get your dream GC job:

1. Learn

Not only does Robyn Diaz have J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, she also studied for, and received, a certificate in executive leadership for health care professionals from Cornell University. By supplementing her J.D. with additional coursework in a particular field, she has already set herself apart from other attorneys in the health industry.

2. Work

Prior to working at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Diaz worked at MedStar Health, and later joined the health care practice group at Crowell & Moring, LLP. By working at a company in the health industry, and at a law firm that services the health industry, she continued to build her expertise in health law.

3. Teach

Robyn Diaz not only took extra classes, but taught them as well. As an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health, she taught law and health care administration classes. She also was an undergraduate preceptor to students at the healthcare management and policy program at Georgetown. By teaching in academia, she further established herself as an expert in the field of health law.

4. Participate

Diaz established a network of lawyers in the healthcare industry by participating in bar associations, notably the American Health Lawyers Association. Further creating her niche, Diaz founded the Memphis Bar Association's Health Law Section, was nominated to serve as its first chair, and was co-chair of the District of Columbia Bar Health Law Section Steering Committee. By taking on leadership roles in her industry, she was already widely known among all the local health law attorneys in her field.

Some of us find our calling sooner than others. Regardless of when you do, continue to build your career by building expertise in a niche area. And, don't just focus on your job, but also other things, outside of your job that you could be doing to establish yourself as an expert.

Editor's Note, October 25, 2016: This post was first published in October 2013. It has since been updated.

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