Ellen J. Flannery is a partner in the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP, in Washington, D.C. and is co-chair of the firm’s food and drug law practice. She advises clients on matters relating to regulation of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and biological products. Ms. Flannery advises both early-stage and established companies on regulatory strategy and compliance issues.
Ms. Flannery serves as the Secretary and member of the Board of the American Bar Foundation. She is also a past Fellows Chair. Within the American Bar Association, she is a member of the ABA House of Delegates and an officer of the Section of Science & Technology Law. She is also a member of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.
Ms. Flannery co-edited a book entitled In Vitro Diagnostics: The Complete Regulatory Guide (2010) and has written numerous articles on FDA regulation. Ms. Flannery received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and law degree from Boston University School of Law. After law school, she had a clerkship with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Ms. Flannery joined The Fellows in 1997. She became a Life Leadership Fellow in 2011.
There are many membership organizations to join in the legal field. What makes the American Bar Foundation stand out among the rest for you?
I firmly believe that the ABF is unique in its focus on empirical research that can lead to improvements in the law and legal institutions, not only in the United States but also internationally. You need to understand the
facts about why something is occurring in order to identify ways to fix a problem or enhance a process. The ABF scholars are conducting that kind of empirical research in areas of critical importance to our justice system and our society — such as diversity, the court system, criminal justice, health care, and human rights. I listen to the scholars report on their research efforts and findings, and inevitably I say “Wow!” The work they are doing is amazing. I wish that everyone could listen to those reports.
What inspired you to make such a substantial commitment to the Foundation?
I was invited to become a Fellow by Zona Hostetler, who was then chair of the D.C. Fellows. I was asked to serve as a member of the Fellows Research Advisory Committee and started to get an in-depth look at the fruit of the ABF’s research efforts. I became increasingly enthusiastic about the work of the ABF, supporting the Foundation through financial contributions and my participation as a Fellows Officer and ABF Board member.
Is there a particular research area the ABF works in that you find especially important to support?
One of the things that I like most about the ABF is that the research covers so many different subject areas and disciplines, rather than being focused on one issue. I think it is important to support the broad array of work in which the ABF is involved, because so many problems are multi-faceted. I am especially pleased to be supporting the ongoing effort to endow the Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law. I believe that the ABF’s multi-disciplinary approach to research can help to identify new ways to encourage diversity in our profession, including more diversity and inclusiveness in leadership positions.
What is your favorite Fellows event memory (or venue, location, etc)?
The Fellows events are always terrific. The venues are attractive and often educational, and the conversations with Fellows from around town or around the country are enlightening and spirited. My favorite memory is the reception held in New York City at the 620 Loft & Garden at Rockefeller Center. That venue was not readily available to the public, so it was very special, and the surroundings were lovely. I also enjoyed Paramount Pictures Studio in Hollywood and the World War II Museum in New Orleans. I am looking forward to making more memories at future events.