I love being an insurance coverage lawyer. And I have long observed that many of the coverage lawyers that I know also love doing what they do. Not just like doing it. But love doing it. But why? I know why I do. But what about the others? Since this is the Valentine’s Day Issue of Coverage Opinions it seemed like the perfect time to reach out to some of the nation’s leading coverage lawyers and ask them this simple question: Why do you love being an insurance coverage lawyer? I appreciate my colleagues sharing their reasons.
I love insurance coverage because it is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Some companies have literally hundreds of millions of dollars sitting in a filing cabinet. I love helping my clients realize those assets to address the myriad liabilities and challenges presented by a dynamic landscape of extraordinary, changing, and emerging risks, including cyber risk. I am delighted to have the privilege to do so on behalf of my clients without exclusions, limitations or conditions! And, of course, I love reading Coverage Opinions. A very Happy Valentine’s Day to my insurance industry friends and colleagues.
K&L Gates, LLP
I love being a coverage attorney for many reasons. It’s exciting and energizing. Seriously, every day, I come to work and think about the insurance issues and projects that I hope I have the opportunity to tackle. It’s intellectually stimulating; the work is timely and topical. Today’s news headline is tomorrow’s insurance assignment. I like to problem-solve and it’s rewarding to feel that you are helping clients tackle important issues – sometimes even cutting-edge issues for the insurance industry. And I often work in coalition settings for insurers and insurance trade groups, so I get to work with great people, too – clients and other insurance industry professionals, and peers who are excellent coverage counsel all across the country.
Laura A. Foggan
Wiley Rein LLP
Like most coverage and bad faith attorneys I suspect, analyzing and litigating the meaning of insurance policy language was not a career I pursued from childhood. Famed criminal lawyer Perry Mason was not my inspiration, nor did I find my contracts and insurance law classes particularly exhilarating. Nevertheless, as a young lawyer in the early 1980s, I was taken by the burgeoning CERCLA environmental landscape, and corporate insureds’ (before they decided to call themselves “policyholders”) attempts to obtain coverage despite the plain language of general liability policies’ “occurrence” requirement and the “sudden and accidental” pollution exclusion. The stakes were high, the lawyers excellent, and the litigation prolific. With a few victories in hand, my passion for representing the insurance industry in coverage matters ensued. Thus rings true Professor Cal Newport’s book, “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love,” suggesting one’s career passion actually is the natural result of work well done, rather than an initial mindset which leads to fulfillment. Times may be a changin’, however. Tom Hanks’s riveting portrayal of noted insurance lawyer James Donovan in Bridge of Spies, no doubt, is bound to spawn a generation of aspiring coverage lawyers. Hollywood has taken notice. We have arrived!
Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP
I would like to offer two observations made over the past 30 years of insurance practice. First, lawyers on both sides of the aisle have shown remarkable (legitimate and appropriate) creativity and ingenuity in the interpretation and application (or non-application, as the case may be) of insurance contracts to the facts at hand. This has led to an almost constant state of evolution in insurance law, and it has made the practice dynamic and always interesting. Second, I have observed a remarkable degree of collegiality and civility among the members of the insurance bar. We encounter each other with frequency, and our relationships exhibit a level of respect that other practices would do well to emulate. Many friendships have been formed between lawyers from opposite sides of the aisle, and this I believe is atypical in a litigation intensive environment such as ours.
Being a coverage lawyer provides a unique way to interact lovingly with my five grandkids, who range from five to twelve years of age. The kids recently attended my 50th wedding anniversary party and learned that Sandy and I had spent more than 50 Valentine’s Days together. We had known each other for two years prior to our wedding. . . but the grandkids have no concept of how long fifty years really is. They do sort of know that their Babu (that’s me) is a “famous” lawyer, but when one of them asked me if I was practicing law when Lincoln was President (or 251 Valentine’s Days ago), I told him no, but that I did remember Roosevelt. He thought for a moment and asked “Teddy or Franklin?” I was born in 1942, so that would be Franklin and now that I’m 73 (almost 74), that would be just as many Valentine’s Days ago! For me, my love of the law extends its web through our entire family and the law is at the center of this universe of love that I call my descendants, my brood, my offspring, my heart, even if they cannot accurately compute Valentine’s Days.
Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP
I love being a coverage lawyer because it often calls for immersion in the amorphous beauty of the written word. Nothing gets the blood flowing like a high-stakes duel with a worthy adversary about verb tense or the placement of a comma. And finding a decision where a like-minded judge devotes four pages to the meaning of a single word can make a coverage lawyer’s heart pound and cheeks flush. Ahh, now that’s bliss!
Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan LLP
New York City
The Valentine’s Day question, “Why do you love being an insurance coverage lawyer?” may bring new meaning to the word “love-sick;” non-coverage lawyers can be excused for thinking that anyone who has a “thing” for insurance needs psychiatric or, perhaps, pharmacological help. My affair with insurance coverage began as something of a blind date. My first job following a judicial clerkship, 27 years ago, was with the firm then known as Anderson, Kill, Olick & Oshinsky. During my first day walk-around to meet my new colleagues, I was introduced to a mid-level attorney who said: “I need some help on a big piece of environmental coverage litigation. Come back and see me this afternoon, if you’re interested.” I had no idea what he was talking about, of course. I soon learned the following five things about my new mistress (coverage law, that is; not the mid-level attorney): (1) with a bit of determination and persistence, a lawyer can become an insurance expert in a relatively short time; (2) insurance policies are like puzzles in which the shapes of the pieces change according to state law, making the solution to particular coverage problems endlessly intriguing; (3) most people never read their insurance policies and, even if they do, they find the documents hard to understand – which makes the coverage lawyer’s advice particularly valuable to a client; (4) many policyholders simply accept a carrier’s denial of coverage as “probably correct,” which makes a coverage lawyer a real hero when he or she finds money that the policyholder had never actually expected to recover; and (5) as long as insurance companies continue to sell policies they will continue to deny claims – which means that a coverage attorney need never have a fear of running out of work. So call me love-sick. I won’t deny it.
Carl A. Salisbury
Bramnick Rodriguez Grabas & Woodruff
Scotch Plains, New Jersey
I love being a coverage lawyer because of the nature and sophistication of the work and the relationships I have with clients and, indeed, adversaries. For me personally, the added bonus is that no two coverage matters are precisely the same, there is seldom a dull moment, and the coverage questions often hinge on complex issues in high-stakes lawsuits against the insureds. My opposing counsel is almost always sharp and experienced, we tend to know each other well, and we usually get along. Standing with me are clients that have proven loyal even when I left a large firm after some 18 years. In fact, the only major, long-term distinction between client and spouse is that one considers you to be an expert in something very important while the other still expects you to take the trash out.
Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller
My love for coverage emanates from these 3 words -- CREATIVITY - VISIBILITY - PERSISTENCE. All of which also apply to the love of life!
I love the intellectual puzzles that coverage presents, perhaps best summed up by this traditional Valentine poem:
Roses are read,
I often say
You get what you bought.
Might not be true
That cup is half full.
Are your expectations
Reason or bull?
Selman Breitman LLP
Before I could explain why I love being a coverage lawyer I had to admit to myself that I do love being a coverage lawyer. And I do! As for the why, at first I came up with all the usual reasons. The work is interesting. It fits the way I think. The pay is reasonably good. The stakes tend to be high, so there’s a level of excitement associated with it. Most clients treat you as a valued member of a team and not as just another service provider. On and on. But what I really love about it is that it is a rare practice that allows you to regularly ply your trade outside the borders of your home jurisdiction. Because of that I have had opportunities to meet so many interesting people, in all parts of the country, that I otherwise would not have met. Many of them have become life-long friends. Life’s not about the work. It’s about the people you meet along the way. Plus, how else would I have met, and be able to call friend, a world-class coverage lawyer from Philly who is even better doing stand-up under a pseudonym in the clubs of New York?
Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P.