Howard Rosenblum Takes a Reasonable Approach to the Walgreens In-House Role

Howard Rosenblum of Walgreens on his one-word legal approach and the ins and outs of leading a subpoena team

Howard Rosenblum, Senior Counsel, Walgreens Photo by Brian Kobeluch

As senior counsel at Walgreens, Howard Rosenblum says there is one word that best defines the legal team’s approach to litigation, negotiation, and everything that comes in between: reasonable. “When you’re working in-house, deciding to take a case to trial is always a business decision,” Rosenblum says. The senior counsel has more than a decade of litigation experience that he is now able to leverage in his much wider scope at the national pharmacy chain. “When a case comes in, we immediately try to determine if it needs to move on to early case assessment. In other words, is it something we think we can resolve reasonably?” The word comes up often with Rosenblum, highlighting a commitment to negotiation as often as possible, but a willingness to stand the company’s legal ground when necessary.

Rosenblum’s firm experience offered a litany of issues that he said somehow all wound up being applicable in his later in-house role, from medical, legal, and dental malpractice to representing corporate clients in litigation and trials. After rising to the partner level, Rosenblum admits his penchant for lifelong learning got the better of him. “Going in-house always sounded like an interesting way to leverage my experience as a litigator by bringing it to a company setting,” Rosenblum says. “I learned that Walgreens was starting a new litigation group, and I figured, why not see what it was all about?”

As one of the first hires for the newly formed litigation group, Rosenblum says he was able to participate in litigation in a way that just wasn’t ever possible at a firm. “You really can be involved as early as the claims stage and all the way through trial and appeal,” Rosenblum says. “I was still intimately involved in the process, and now I got to also work as part of the business.”

Working with the business, the senior counsel says, is some of the most rewarding work he gets to do at Walgreens. “Whether it’s operations or safety or HR, I’m here to help them accomplish company goals and not just scare them off with legalese,” Rosenblum says. “That requires that I work with our team members and try to respond in a way that’s helpful and nonthreatening.”

“I just try to keep everyone on the same page that this is all for the customers, because without them, there is no Walgreens.”

That can be difficult; the lawyer’s job means having to review and consider policies and procedures that may need tweaking. “I just try to keep everyone on the same page that this is all for the customers, because without them, there is no Walgreens,” Rosenblum says. “Are there things that we can learn from litigation or claims to maybe figure out how to operate differently or provide more training? I try to use those cases as learning experiences for everyone here.”

Rosenblum’s tendency to volunteer for nearly any project has currently led him to oversee Walgreens’s new subpoena team. Rosenblum is leading a team of paralegals who are responsible for the intake of all company subpoenas, primarily made up of third-party disputes where Walgreens isn’t even a concerned party. “These used to come into different departments throughout the company, but we’ve streamlined the process so that they now all come through centrally to the legal department,” Rosenblum says. “Now we’re able to collaborate on potential solutions together, especially if we see the same issue materializing a few times.”

In responding to subpoenas, Rosenblum says a familiar logic is always at play. “I know I’ve used this word before, but as we look to avoid drawing the company into any discovery disputes that we may not even be party to, we are just looking to respond reasonably,” Rosenblum says. “If it’s a subpoena asking for a deeper dive than it should be, we’ll do our best to try to work it out with the requesting party, though sometimes, we do have to push back.”

Rosenblum says his measure of success is simple: if his team continues to grow and develop, everyone will continue to flourish. “This isn’t a ‘do as I say’ team,” Rosenblum says. “And I will always be the first one in line to give them a hand if they need it.”

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Burnham Brown:

“Howard Rosenblum, consummate lawyer and business partner, is a pleasure to work with. His deep knowledge of Walgreens allowed us to work effortlessly on its behalf with effective litigation strategy.”

—Paul Caleo, Partner

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Spicer Rudstrom PLLC:

“Howard Rosenblum is truly a skilled professional. His approach to legal matters is strategic, practical, and synergistic. He handles the routine matter efficiently and makes the complicated matter straightforward. In short, Howard engenders success.”

—Marc O. Dedman, Member