During Women’s History Month, Fullerton Beck is highlighting Partner Alison O’Dwyer, a skilled attorney and registered nurse, who focuses her practice on defending hospitals and healthcare professionals in high-exposure medical malpractice claims. Alison represents clients – hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, optometrists, and other allied healthcare professionals – in a range of malpractice claims arising across all areas of medical specialty, from failure to diagnose cancer to negligent performance of surgery. She also represents healthcare professionals in license and misconduct proceedings before the Office of Professional Medical Conduct. Her experience in the medical field enables her to swiftly and accurately analyze medical malpractice claims to determine her litigation strategy.
Q: How did you get started in law and specifically medical malpractice?
When I was an obstetrical nurse, I was named as a defendant in a lawsuit involving a baby who suffered neurological injuries during his delivery. I was so appreciative of the support and guidance of my defense counsel that I wanted to assist others in the same way, so I attended law school while continuing to work as an RN. It was such a pleasure to work alongside my colleagues who I could support while on the job.
Q: What made you join Fullerton Beck LLP?
Several partners within my practice team were moving to Fullerton Beck, and as an RN and experienced defense attorney, I am an essential member of that team so chose to move with them. I also had heard wonderful things about Fullerton Beck and wanted to be a part of what Katrine Beck, a former colleague, and Eileen Fullerton were building. I can honestly say that I made the right choice. Fullerton Beck is truly a special place, both culturally and in the work we do.
Q: What was your most memorable and/or proudest moment in your legal career?
There is no single moment, but rather many moments in my career of which I am especially proud. I am proud every time I take a complex case, where there is significant exposure and risk to the client, and successfully defend it on its merits. One case in particular is one where I got my client dismissed from a lawsuit involving an alleged failure to timely diagnose and treat an intrauterine stroke, which allegedly resulted in the baby being born with significant neurological injuries. I was proud to be able to extricate my client from that litigation and make her feel protected and empowered throughout the litigation process.
Q: What has been the greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge has been balancing my professional responsibilities with my role as a mother, which I have successfully accomplished with the support of my family, colleagues, and mentors.
Q: If you were not a lawyer, would you have continued in nursing?
Yes. I would likely have obtained an advanced degree in nursing.
Q: What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received and from whom, if you remember?
Always have an open dialogue with your clients. That important sentiment has been echoed by many people I know personally and professionally.
Q: What advice would you give to a new attorney?
It is possible to have both a professional life and a personal one. Being successful professionally does not require you to forsake your family life.
Q: What do you do when you aren’t practicing law?
I enjoy being outdoors and traveling with my family.