Perhaps only one job can keep Jennifer Evans (’98) from working in health care regulatory law. But until she gets offered a ski concierge position, the health care world doesn’t have to worry about losing her. Since she was in high school, Evans envisioned working in the field.
“I really always have been a health care person first,” Evans said. “Being a clinician wasn’t for me. It was a question about how can I still do health care not as a clinician. So it really started on the policy side, working on Capitol Hill and doing health care. When I went to law school, I wanted to be a lawyer for the health care industry.”
Her desire to work in health care has translated to a career working in both public and private practice in the industry. After working for various law firms in her first three years of practice, Evans was seconded to a health care company, Gambro Healthcare, to which she eventually switched over as an employee. She continued to work there and for a company that bought out Gambro (DaVita) until Governor Bill Ritter appointed her as deputy director of Medicaid in Colorado. She enjoyed the work, but couldn’t see herself as a government bureaucrat, so she returned to private practice. Evans eventually ended up at Polsinelli PC, where she now works as part of the largest health care practice in the country and serves as office managing partner in the Denver office. This has been a good fit for Evans, she said, as she gets to combine Medicaid work with a corporate law environment, which is congenial to her interests.
Evans grew up in Breckenridge and Greeley. Being a native Coloradan, it’s no surprise her favorite hobbies are skiing and biking. She said her dream job would be as a ski concierge, a position involving planning adventures, giving lessons, and doing all things skiing for a mountain resort.
Coming out of high school in Greeley, Evans came to the University of Colorado Boulder as an undergraduate to participate in the Presidents Leadership Class and to study political science and international relations. She knew she wanted to work in health care policy, so after graduating in 1991, she worked on Capitol Hill for U.S. Representative and then-Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, also from Colorado. She rose as high as legislative director for Senator Campbell, then eventually decided she needed a career change. That’s when her acceptance from the University of Colorado Law School came in the mail.
Returning to the university included a few changes for Evans. She said that her first year of law school required more studying than all of undergrad. More significantly, she left law school with a family. Rather than wait until she was a first-year associate at a firm, Evans and her husband decided to have their first child while she was in her final year at Colorado Law. “I took a week off of class when [my daughter] was born and then I was right back at it,” Evans said. This worked out smoothly, as Evans would even, with professors’ permission, bring her daughter to class, where the baby would sleep. The only complication Evans mentioned involved graduation preparation.
“One opportunity to get measured for your cap and gown, that was it,” Evans said. “If you weren’t able to attend at that time, you would not be able to march at commencement. When I was coming home from the hospital with Carly, I stopped off at the law school to get measured for my cap and gown.”
It all worked out. Evans’ family has added two more children since her law school days. Her career has continued on a path she had envisioned, still working in health care and combining her interests with the environment she likes. She said she’s fortunate it’s all worked out.
What is your fondest memory of being a student at Colorado Law?
My classmates. Many of us were newly married or new parents, and my closest friends and I had all decided to make a change from successful careers before law school. It was great to have the support network for all of those transitions.
What do you know now that you wish you had known in law school?
That I would actually enjoy being a lawyer. I wasn’t convinced that I would ever practice law, and that knowledge would have made the hard work while in law school easier.
What advice would you give to current students as they’re preparing to graduate?
Don’t be afraid to change positions and career paths. There are many fulfilling opportunities for people with a good law degree.
Who was the biggest influence on your career?
My husband, JW Postal. He is my biggest challenger and biggest champion, and has always pushed me to find and follow the right path.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
As a lawyer, I was able to help clarify the ongoing role for free clinics following Medicaid expansion supporting an important component of the health care safety net.