2017 marks the 60th anniversary of Hall Render and the Indiana Hospital Association’s unique partnership. Today, with more than 200 attorneys, Hall Render is the largest health care firm in the country; IHA employs over 30 health care experts advocating on behalf of more than 170 hospitals. The two organizations share the same building at 500 North Meridian in Indianapolis.
Over the course of six decades, IHA and Hall Render have collaborated on landmark pieces of Indiana health care legislation in a complex and ever-shifting landscape. Together, they have fought for what is best for Indiana hospitals, all while growing and evolving in the same physical location and supporting one another in times of great change.
If that sounds more like the description of a family than a business partnership, it’s intentional. Ask anyone at IHA who has worked closely with Hall Render (and vice versa) to describe the partnership, and “close,” “collaborative” and “familial” are often used descriptors.
And, like many great and sprawling families, this unique partnership began long ago, with two people working closely together toward a common goal.
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS BILL HALL AND ELTON TEKOLSTE
In 1957, IHA retained Indianapolis attorney William S. Hall to represent its interests in the Indiana General Assembly. This arrangement continued until 1960, when Elton TeKolste became the first full-time employee of IHA. As executive director (the title later became president) of IHA, one of TeKolste’s first orders of business was to expand the duties of Hall’s retainer to include both chief lobbyist and general counsel.
In 1967, TeKolste invited Hall to share office space in IHA’s headquarters at 38 East 39th Street. Four years later, Hall hired former IHA employee and recent law school graduate John C. Render and Hall Render was born.
“Sharing physical space has always been an important part of our relationship,” says Render. “It’s uncommon. We’ve been in four different locations. We moved together and stayed together for all these years—and it’s been really great.”
A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP
This close physical proximity helped foster a bond between the two organizations that has only strengthened over time. “From day one, when Bill and I sat down with TeKolste, we’ve never seen our role as just being lawyers,” Render states. “We’ve seen our role as part of IHA—to improve IHA any way we can, to bring more value to the membership and better the position of Indiana hospitals. It’s much more than legal counsel. It’s being advisers. If we’re not helping, we’re not doing our jobs.”
To say that Hall Render has helped IHA would be a massive understatement. Together, Hall Render and IHA have crafted and advocated for legislation that has transformed health care in Indiana, making patients safer and providers more fiscally stable. From the Patient Compensation Act of 1975 to the Hospital Assessment Fee program of 2011 to HIP 2.0, this unique partnership has benefited IHA members—and the communities they serve—for decades.
“I worked in the Indiana legislature on behalf of IHA from 1971 to 2005, and every year we would have one or two bills that we would draft and seek to get passed,” Render remembers.
HALL RENDER EXPANDS, SEEKS SIMILAR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER HOSPITAL ASSOCIATIONS
“To be completely direct, we owe a very great deal to IHA,” Render notes. “Hall Render would not be what it is today without our relationship with IHA. Early on, by being general counsel and chief lobbyists, we developed close relationships with hospitals and we got to know every CEO and many other chief officers in the state. It helped us to get business from the hospitals, but more importantly, we learned a great deal about hospitals and health care.”
John Ryan, president and managing partner of Hall Render, joined the firm in 1998. “When I was hired as the 53rd attorney, we had offices in Indianapolis and Louisville,” Ryan says. “We now have more than 200 attorneys nationwide and have expanded to 12 offices as far west as Anchorage, Alaska, and as far east as Washington, D.C.”
Ryan credits Hall Render’s expansion in part to the firm’s unique relationship with IHA. “Our firm owes a debt of gratitude to IHA for affording us an opportunity to create a foundation in health care law in Indiana, which we ultimately used as a road map for building a similar existence in 12 different office locations across the country. We’ve been able to tell the story of our relationship with IHA and it becomes an epiphany for hospital associations in other states as they seek out ways to support their hospitals and navigate a very complicated industry that’s changing every day.”
As Hall Render has grown, so has the depth of its attorneys’ expertise. “One of the evolutions we’ve seen is that today, because of our size, we have attorneys that can specialize in a single area as opposed to more broadly representing clients in every area,” Ryan notes. “We can have an attorney that only focuses on HIPPA privacy law or Medicaid reimbursement. That was not something we could do as easily when I joined and there were only 53 of us.”
But even as Hall Render has grown to more than 200 attorneys, its bond with IHA has remained as strong as it was when Bill Hall and Elton TeKolste first started working together 60 years ago. “The door’s swinging between us and Hall Render every day,” says Doug Leonard, president of IHA. “We’re integrated with them in so many ways in the government relations work we do, contracts, general counsel. The importance of Hall Render to IHA cannot be overstated.”
HALL RENDER AND IHA CLOSE ONE CHAPTER—AND BEGIN ANOTHER
This year, IHA President Doug Leonard will retire after a decade of leading the Association. And, after 33 years in the role, John Render will pass the title of IHA’s general counsel to Tim Kennedy, who will be only the third person in the 60-year partnership between Hall Render and IHA to serve in that position.
Kennedy started his career at Hall Render in 1986 and has worked with IHA since 1991. “John Render has been a hugely influential figure—both as a representative of IHA, and also with regard to health policy matters in the state of Indiana,” Kennedy says. “It’s been my great fortune to be able to work for him, observe him and learn from him.”
Kennedy understands the legacy he’s inherited—both in terms of what it means to Hall Render and to IHA. “In a very real sense, Bill Hall, who was the anchor of all of this, passed his knowledge down through John. John expanded and improved on Bill Hall’s legacy, and I hope to carry on the best I can, knowing that I’ll never be able to fill the shoes of Bill Hall and John Render.”
According to John Ryan, the future includes more of the same close collaboration that has defined Hall Render and IHA’s first six decades together. “I see this as a partnership we’ll be talking about 60 years from now,” Ryan says. “The combination of us having worked together as we have, coupled with us cohabitating, has built a family in health care that would be hard to see any other way.”