CARLA DEWBERRY ’80
The daughter of an Air Force officer, Carla DewBerry had a clear view of her career runway.
“I always liked the idea of helping people solve problems,” she recalls. “Becoming a lawyer seemed like a satisfying way to do that.”
DewBerry’s peers clearly applaud her decision, naming her to The Best Lawyers in America list in health care for each of the past seven years. A partner at K&L Gates in Seattle, she also focuses on mergers and acquisitions and tax matters.
After graduating from Berkeley Law, DewBerry worked in Arthur Andersen’s tax department and helped design various hospital reorganizations. That led to more health care work upon joining a law firm in Seattle.
“The field has certainly changed,” she says. “When I started, there wasn’t much high-profile litigation. It was a small, close-knit group that knew each other and worked well together. Then Wall Street took an interest.”
From DewBerry’s perspective, more people investing in health care for financial reasons has produced both helpful and harmful results.
“It brings resources to the market that otherwise wouldn’t be there, which benefits many nonprofits,” she says. “But it also creates ‘winners and losers’ and extends the divide about how health care should be paid for and delivered.”
Amid the chaotic landscape from President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to President Trump’s proposed American Health Care Act, DewBerry acknowledges stress and uncertainty in the industry. What repels some lawyers, however, attracts others.
“Some of us enjoy working in a space where there’s no clear answer,” she says. “And helping clients who truly want to give their patients better health care is incredibly enriching.”
From owning a private law practice to serving as tax manager of a large multinational accounting firm, DewBerry relishes giving clients a voice.
“I represented a nonprofit client that wanted to partner with a more sophisticated nonprofit,” she recalls. “At a meeting of the executive teams, someone from the other side said something and I interjected. When I finished, an elderly woman on our board slapped her hand on the table and said, ‘Yes!’ I knew I’d given the other side an important look at her worldview.”
DewBerry’s own perspective was indelibly shaped at Berkeley. “I can’t imagine having a better law school experience anywhere else,” she says.
Grateful for how affordable the school was in the late 1970s—especially compared with today—DewBerry serves as her office captain for Berkeley Law’s Partners in Leadership campaign.
“When I went to Berkeley, it was cheap enough that I could work and pay for tuition myself,” she says. “That’s no longer remotely possible. All of us who benefited from that system should want to help the school’s current students.”