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Insurance Defense Work

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Alamo hit the nail on the head.  What he described are the types of cases that often come across my desk as a judicial law clerk.  Instead of settling, the insurance defense attorney will try to find any clause that would allow his client (the insurance company) to weasel its way out of paying the claim or to enforce the terms of a grossly one-sided contract.  Generally, when the contract is even the slightest bit ambiguous as to coverage, courts will find in favor of the insured.


--- Quote from: Jhuen_the_bird on February 12, 2010, 09:16:41 AM ---At least at this firm - it's 2000 hr requirement for the firm, and hours get kicked back ALL the time!  It seems really stressful since the clients are pretty sophisticated.

--- End quote ---

Wow, I don't have direct experience in insurance defense, but this is so familiar it actually is giving me chills. 

I have heard that the upside of insurance defense work is that you're essentially guaranteed a nonstop stream of work. 

On the flip side, I've heard that they negotiate lower rates for the hourly billing rate (totally consistent with what I see insurance companies do every day.)

Then, to add the point you made: that they kick back on the billed hours is also absolutely consistent with what I've observed with the way they do business, everywhere. 

They're essentially negotiating thousands of transactions every day.  They know how far they can go when pushing a relationship and they're darned sure going to do it.

Now, in the final analysis, nobody is forced to work for them.  I know of one person in particular who specialized in insurance defense a long time ago and he's truly wealthy, now.  Works long hours, earns every penny, but never has to wonder where his next billable hour is going to come from.

However, I can see how this could be horribly frustrating work.  You're representing Goliath, trying to help him beat the snot out of David, and when you succeed, he quibbles about your bill after you already gave him a discount on the rate to begin with.

I'm really glad you guys brought this up.  It would never have occurred to me how unappealing this sort of work can be if you had not. 

Not saying I wouldn't do it, or that I'd rule it out, but just saying I'd examine any prospects in this line of work with my eyes wide open.

I'm sure an insurance company is a much better client than most for obvious reasons.


--- Quote from: barond on March 17, 2011, 10:04:21 AM ---I'm sure an insurance company is a much better client than most for obvious reasons.

--- End quote ---

Because they can pay (although they typically refute the bill) and provide you with a solid stream of work?


--- Quote --- Sometimes, you're probably fending off frauds who are looking for a quick payday; that would be gratifying.  But most of the time you'll be across the table/aisle from someone who just had something terrible happen to her -- and you'll be telling her that, for X reason, you're not going to pay.  And, before that, you'll have searched through her policy to find any clause, and and her file to find any action, that would render your client's coverage inapplicable.  Sometimes, you might even string her along for a while, making her think you'll settle, then, as soon as the statute of limitations runs, you either hang that over her head and make her settle for a fraction of what her case would've been worth, or litigate and pray the judge doesn't find a way around enforcing the time bar. 

--- End quote ---

Insurance defense work comes after litigation is filed.  Rarely, will you be dealing with policy provisions as an out.  The typical situation is one where you have liablilty against your client, but the damages are disputed.

Insurance companies carefully look at their bills.  "kickback" occurs when you spend too much time on a project, or doing "unnecessary"  work.   

The work, however, is steady.  It isn't glamerous for a young lawyer.  Expect to spend about 2/3 of your time drafting or responding to motions or discovery.  1/3 will be fact witness depositions.  Partner will handle everything else for several years. 

Its the kind of job that is easy to leave at work.

Good luck!!! 


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