Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Best to avoid insurance defense no matter what?

I'm getting interviews now for my first real full time posit fuckup01/16/13
Sorry to reply twice, but the "stigma" of ID is far preferab tdkerabatsos01/16/13
Depends on your situation. If you have a working spouse, in tdkerabatsos01/16/13
I did it for a few years, learned how to try cases, and move sparky01/16/13
It also depends on what kind of cases you're working on. Low texlaw01/16/13
got any specifics on ID for professional liability? How are ridingthepine02/20/14
Right after I graduated from law school, I worked for an ins blaketpa01/16/13
What other areas of law? Outside of big firm corporate law o eject01/16/13
well there are other areas of law - workers comp, plaintiff' fuckup01/18/13
My point is that plaintiff's PI is more stigmatized than ins eject01/20/13
This. I'm trying to get out of PI and into ID. frfc3s02/19/14
if you want to litigate ID is a fine way to go. livingthedream01/16/13
My last boss did primarily ID work. It was his bread and bu qdllc01/17/13
Or you might just win bad cases just because jurors hate whi frfc3s02/19/14
I practice mostly ID, but no car-wrecks or other sh*tlaw. Ev waffled01/17/13
Insurance defense is a great way to start out, in my opinion jordan01/17/13
so can you go from ID to other areas of law? fuckup01/18/13
Yes, I did it. I worked for an ID firm in NYC and then left associatex01/18/13
AssociateX, any advice on my situation? I graduated at th superttthero01/18/13
You should apply. You never know, I know a JDUer here from 5 associatex01/18/13
You will not learnt to try cases because virtually all of th bostonlawyer.202/19/17
Associatex, insurance staff counsel is still insurance defen eject01/20/13
That is correct. What I do is 100% insurance defense obvious associatex01/21/13
Associatex, what type of firm did you lateral to and how dif calgu3402/19/14
I'm not familiar with all of the lore of this place, but I t rustbeltlawyer02/19/14
I graduated in 08' and started working in a mid-sized ID fir reasonable_man02/19/14
I don't agree with this at all. Insurance Defense is a good municipald102/20/14
I started in ID. Learned it. Settled a bunch of cases with p donatus02/20/14
Are you retired retired, or simply retired from law? If the newtoboard9903/03/14
Why? I know a few 40 to 50 year old plaintiff attorneys tha reasonable_man03/04/14
Looks like I am a late comer to this thread. For 1.5 years, cesquisite02/16/17
Lots of opinions on here, but I don't think ID is that bad a jd4hire02/16/17
Can you go into more detail about the large carrier? Was it goorange88802/16/17
What was the main difference between staff counsel and priva shikes02/16/17
Some don't have "billables", and work a normal 8-5. Some goorange88802/16/17
Go the plaintiff's route. parlance02/16/17
why? prestiiigiousone02/17/17
The possibility of better returns. parlance02/18/17
I've done private ID and staff counsel. I much prefer the la therover02/17/17
Do you mind sharing what role you are in now? Also, I ha goorange88802/17/17
Staff counsel is great. You get an excellent quality of life lucabrasi3302/17/17
Do you plan on staying for the long haul? What you just desc goorange88802/17/17
Your company actually tries cases? Seems like mine always se shikes02/18/17
We try a lot of cases. Big and small. therover02/18/17
I prefer outside counsel as opposed to staff. My carrier ha jd4hire02/19/17
I think ID is a good work to start and get decent general li bostonlawyer.202/19/17
People consistently talk about the ridiculously high ceiling goorange88802/20/17
From my understanding, many pl firms pay you a moderate sala jackiechiles02/20/17
I can't imagine they'd be anywhere close to 100K prestiiigiousone02/27/17
I think its entirely firm dependent. There are prestigious p mrtor02/28/17
It depends on the firm. Just want to point out that my firm associatex02/22/17
Hey, is it possible I could e-mail with you privately? As I prestiiigiousone02/27/17
Sure, you can Email me at associatex@live.com associatex02/28/17
The funny thing about ID is that vacation is meaningless. It mrtor02/28/17
It is true that vacation can be meaningless since billable h associatex02/28/17
associatex welcome back we missed you! feic02/28/17
aww thanks! Surprised that some of the same characters are s associatex02/28/17
Are you still married? feic02/28/17
Yes, happily so. associatex02/28/17
Good! Sounded like were rocky there but glad you hung in the feic02/28/17
What are realistic exit options? I know there are outlier shikes02/28/17
Bumping because I am curious as well. Interested in speci muaddib03/01/17
I never did ID in direct claims but did some insurance cover 2breedbares03/01/17
I know 4 ex Wilson Elser associates, 2 went solo, 1 works as associatex03/01/17
Want to have your friend who works for the AIG affiliate thr jd4hire03/01/17
Lol to Jd4hire. To associatex: is the AIG job similar to attorneyinct03/02/17
I'd imagine her position is similar to staff counsel but w/o associatex03/02/17
I know "Claims Counsel" for Liberty are adjusters with JDs w jd4hire03/02/17
And by no means meant "adjusters with JDs" in a derogatory m jd4hire03/02/17
Exactly, I briefly did legal mal cases and 80% of my files h associatex03/02/17

fuckup (Jan 16, 2013 - 6:52 pm)

I'm getting interviews now for my first real full time position and I hear all the horror stories and stigma of ID. Is it best to avoid if at all possible, in favor of other areas of law?

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tdkerabatsos (Jan 16, 2013 - 11:31 pm)

Sorry to reply twice, but the "stigma" of ID is far preferable to the stigma of a resume gap. Just sayin'.

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tdkerabatsos (Jan 16, 2013 - 7:31 pm)

Depends on your situation. If you have a working spouse, independent wealth, etc., might be worth holding out a while longer.

If not, some money is better than no money. And you absolutely will learn how do in the trenches civil litigation, and in most firms you'll learn it very quickly. Not saying it's fun or rewarding, but at least you have a "skill" for moving on to something better.

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sparky (Jan 16, 2013 - 7:40 pm)

I did it for a few years, learned how to try cases, and moved on. Only way left besides the prosecutors office of pd's office to learn.

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texlaw (Jan 16, 2013 - 8:02 pm)

It also depends on what kind of cases you're working on. Low dollar car wrecks, not so much. But I did professional liability for several years as well as some general liability that involved business-to-business litigation, and I loved it.

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ridingthepine (Feb 20, 2014 - 11:06 am)

got any specifics on ID for professional liability? How are the hours? Pay? I may have an opportunity to jump from plaintiff's work in the area to a mid-size ID firm. my current office is small, but there is a lot of room for outside life and the pay doesn't suck at all.

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blaketpa (Jan 16, 2013 - 8:55 pm)

Right after I graduated from law school, I worked for an insurance defense firm for 2 years and absolutely hated it. I wanted to kill myself every day and I couldn't wait to find another job. The reasons I hated it include: the partners treated the associates like scum; associates were required to be present in the office Monday through SATURDAY; the firm's minimum billable hour requirement was between 2100 and 2600 per year, depending on your level; and the starting salary was $65K. Despite that, I gained a lot of good litigation experience.

Now I work at another firm that does a lot of insurance defense and I really enjoy the environment and I like the people I work with. Although every firm has issues you'd like to correct, I really can't complain much. I work Monday through Friday from about 9 to 6. My minimum billable hour requirement is 1950 per year, or 162 hours per month, and the requirement will not increase. I make a good salary and I'm gaining experience in several different areas, including labor and employment, commercial litigation, transportation, construction defects and products liability.

There are many different types of insurance defense firms, some practice more sh*tlaw than others. And there are many different types of people at insurance defense firms, some more pleasant and knowledgeable than others. Hopefully, if you take that route, you will have the opportunity to select one of the better options.

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eject (Jan 16, 2013 - 10:48 pm)

What other areas of law? Outside of big firm corporate law or working for the government, insurance defense is probably one of the better options (which is sad).

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fuckup (Jan 18, 2013 - 5:48 pm)

well there are other areas of law - workers comp, plaintiff's PI, family, real estate, criminal

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eject (Jan 20, 2013 - 11:28 pm)

My point is that plaintiff's PI is more stigmatized than insurance defense and so is a lot of family law and criminal law (unless you are a DA). Some real estate work my be better but if you're doing real estate work for individuals or small businesses it's still not that different. (I wouldn't consider WC different than insurance defense if you are doing the defending. If you are doing plaintiff's work, it's not very different than civil PI.)

In terms of horror stories and stigmas, there are really only three categories of legal work: 1) your client is a large corporation (this is the work of big firms) 2) your client is the government (you work for the government) or 3) you represent individuals and small businesses. If you don't have the pedigree for 1) or get lucky enough for 2) there's not really much else out there besides 3).

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frfc3s (Feb 19, 2014 - 2:17 pm)

This.

I'm trying to get out of PI and into ID.

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livingthedream (Jan 16, 2013 - 11:18 pm)

if you want to litigate ID is a fine way to go.

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qdllc (Jan 17, 2013 - 9:02 am)

My last boss did primarily ID work. It was his bread and butter and was well-respected as honest and ethical. He was losing ID work because the insurance companies were going with bigger firms and not small, local offices.

I see no real "down" to ID work. Unless you are a jerk to everyone, most ID cases settle out of court...it's about getting to a number both sides will agree to unless you can find good ground that the claim against your carrier is without merit. The biggest issue is conflict of interest where you might be offered work from a new carrier who you've gone after in the past (most cases is Allstate going after Geico on behalf of their insureds).

You'll have to bone up on some medical knowledge so you can grasp doctor reports better and appreciate how severe a claim may or may not be.

Likewise, you might lose cases in court just because of who your client is (the big "evil" corporation). Depends on the jury's attitude.

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frfc3s (Feb 19, 2014 - 2:18 pm)

Or you might just win bad cases just because jurors hate whinebags and scam artists.

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waffled (Jan 17, 2013 - 10:27 am)

I practice mostly ID, but no car-wrecks or other sh*tlaw. Even when more money is involved, it's still repetitive, but it "feels" more worthwhile, plus you learn a lot. Occasionally we do policyholder stuff but that's generally liability. I think ID is fine, and as someone mentioned earlier, it's much better than no job. And how much you enjoy working at a place will often depend as much on your colleagues as the practice area.

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jordan (Jan 17, 2013 - 1:13 pm)

Insurance defense is a great way to start out, in my opinion. You'll learn how to try cases, and you'll learn the nuts and bolts of practice. Plus, a lot of the stuff you do will be low risk - even if you screw it up, the adjuster won't get mad over a case valued at like $8k.

I wouldn't stay in insurance defense forever because generating clients is next to impossible.

Pay kind of sucks and you will be a slave to billable hours. Your life will be lived in .1 increments. Just consider it an annoying internship, and be glad you're learning how to practice law on an insurance carrier's dime.

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fuckup (Jan 18, 2013 - 5:49 pm)

so can you go from ID to other areas of law?

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associatex (Jan 18, 2013 - 10:22 pm)

Yes, I did it. I worked for an ID firm in NYC and then left to try real estate and plaintiff PI. I hated it. Plaintiffs firms, especially low end personal injury places tend to attract bottom feeder clients who will treat you like crap and not cooperate with their cases (because they don't pay a dime, they recover only if they win) so I got sick of it and went back to ID. I am now staff counsel at an insurance company and love my job, I work with a really nice group of people and our boss is very laid back (if I need to leave at 4:30 for whatever reason, he is cool with it as long as I tell him and my secretary). We also are a paperless office which makes things a lot easier (ie I can work from home, have my entire file scanned in by the time I get back from court so I don't need to spend any time doing administrative bullshit like photocopying a million exhibits). Our billables are 1900/yr and I can't remember the last time I worked past 6:30pm.

People knock ins defense because technically the billing rates are much much lower than other areas like corporate or banking. Partners in private sector small or mid size ID shops may just top out at $150-225K and thats it. its not the same structure as BigLaw where associates start out at $160K and can make up to $400K as Partner. Typically hourly rates in ID range from $100-200/hr for attorneys vs $300-400/hr for lawyers in real estate, corporate, etc. Hence why entry level salaries for some ID firms is pitifully low (45-60K v 60-80K for other areas). The only exception is working for very large ID firms like Wilson Elser, Rivkin Radler, Clausen Miller, etc which have many insurance co clients so they can absorb the costs of training new associates.

The plus side is that you get immediate hands on experience, some semblance of a normal 9-5 job (most ins claim reps work 8-4 pm so unless you have a trial,it is rare to see ID firm associates working past 7 pm) plus those litigation skills transfer to other areas.

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superttthero (Jan 18, 2013 - 11:04 pm)

AssociateX, any advice on my situation?

I graduated at the worst time of the economy and moved cross country for family. I had no job so I basically did immigration work for a year (I speak Spanish). I hated my firm so I left and did contract work for a year or so. Afterwards, I got picked up by a BIGLAW firm to work as an eDiscovery "of counsel" type (permanent position).

I want to do ID now with the eventual goal of going in house at an insurance company... what do you think my chances are (even if only as entry level) if I apply at big places like WEMED, Rivkin? Any shot?

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associatex (Jan 18, 2013 - 11:15 pm)

You should apply. You never know, I know a JDUer here from 5 years ago who moved back to Ohio after working in low rung PI shops in NYC and ended up getting a job at Wilson Elser. There was nothing special about him, he graduated from Capital Law school.

These ID firms act like they are selective but they aren't. What they look for are hungry attorneys...hungry to work hard and bill as many hours. Basically someone who is willing to work BigLaw type hours but accepts half the pay (notice I said, willing,,you don't necessarily have to work those hours once you figure out the culture of the firm). These ID firms are interested in lawyers with skill vs a pretty resume (ie they'd rather have a 2007 NYLS grad with good trial experience vs a 2010 Fordham grad who has never litigated a case and needs hand holding).

As for in house at an ins company, you would definitely need to get into an ID firm first. My firm hired 99% of its mid level attorneys from private ID firms. Only 1 guy was an anomaly (he was a laid off BigLaw associate from Sullivan Cromwell).

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bostonlawyer.2 (Feb 19, 2017 - 8:04 pm)

You will not learnt to try cases because virtually all of them settle. The exception to this is if you work at a "captive law firm" for an insurance company.

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eject (Jan 20, 2013 - 11:09 pm)

Associatex, insurance staff counsel is still insurance defense. I've seen a fair amount of threads where you try to characterize yourself as doing something. I don't really get it. You are defending clients in civil law suits based on insurance they bought right? That is insurance defense.

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associatex (Jan 21, 2013 - 1:04 am)

That is correct. What I do is 100% insurance defense obviously. I left ID briefly in 2004-2005 to work at general practice firms that did zero insurance defense work. I went back to ID for a myriad of reasons, money being one of them. I handle auto liability claims (first party medical, or what NYers call "no fault"). I'm not sure what threads you are reading where I claimed I did other work, unless I was talking about my part time job (which happens to be in real estate).

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calgu34 (Feb 19, 2014 - 12:41 pm)

Associatex, what type of firm did you lateral to and how difficult was it to get into work outside of ID? From my research on other posts regarding ID it seems like most people believe it is a difficult field to leave due to the perception of the work.

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rustbeltlawyer (Feb 19, 2014 - 1:03 pm)

I'm not familiar with all of the lore of this place, but I think AssX flew the coup some time ago (unless she's posting under a different pseudonym). I do some ID work for my firm while working on cases in other fields. I would say the single biggest issue with ID work is the difficulty developing your own book of business early on. Carriers often have a list of preferred firms to work with, and the only way you're going to take over that business is inheriting from the firm as you progress. If you want to steer your own ship, ID is a waystation, at best.

There are a number of posters here who have done ID and moved on to other areas. You get trial experience, which is useful. You might get appellate experience, which is a big benefit (I mildly dislike litigation but love appellate work).

Bottom line - ID is a good starting point experience-wise IF you are with a firm run by relatively sane people and can tolerate living life in six minute increments.

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reasonable_man (Feb 19, 2014 - 3:26 pm)

I graduated in 08' and started working in a mid-sized ID firm doing run of the mill GL work, i.e. construction, premises, truck accidents, etc. I Had great bosses and learned a lot. My last boss was a bit of a tool and I ultimately left and went to a small firm that did about half ID and half specialized litigation (higher billing rates and much more interesting). We were absorbed by a national firm that has a lot of high end ID (think D/O, E/O, Securities, Coverage, employment, professional, etc.) I do a mix of the specialized litigation that I was doing before at my small firm and other ID type work. I'm coming into my 6th year now and earn over 100K. I work reasonable hours for a terrific boss. I have a nice office that I leave every night at a reasonable hour. Billable minimum is reasonable ~2000 and bonuses are pretty generous. In short, "ID" isn't bad if you find the right place.

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municipald1 (Feb 20, 2014 - 12:18 pm)

I don't agree with this at all. Insurance Defense is a good way to get litigation experience. You just have to know the markets and the types of firms.

There are different flavors of ID. A lot of mid-sized firms started as ID firms, and still have a sizeable stable of carrier clients. Even big firms (most obvious one coming to mind is Lord Locke Liddel) started with heavy, heavy Insurance work (Lord Bissell & Brooke was Lloyd's counsel for years).

I was at a mid-sized firm with plenty of carrier clients (as well as other non-carrier clients). The reality is that ID work is a steady income stream, and it gives the firms more breathing room than other firms.

The hours will be long, and the firms will be more interested in the ability to get the job done than your pedigree. You may also have a lot less support staff (because they pay low wages). But ID firms have clients, have business, and are often hiring.

There are a couple different rungs on the ID food chain.

One rung is the captive firm. Usually these are ten to fifteen attorneys and all they do is auto claims for a carrier. The cases are all the same, but you can get three to five jury trials in a year or two. That's valuable, valuable experience. Plus, if it's a true captive, you're an insurance company employee, which means better benefits and perks (but not a great salary).

Another rung are the small firms with insurance carrier clients. Often these are spin offs of larger regional firms.

The next step is mid sized regional firms with carrier and hospital clients.

Finally, you have the large national firms with large carrier clients-- think WEMED, Hinshaw, Gordon Rees, or Littler Mendleson.

If you want to know who the more established insurance defense firms are, look for firms that are members of the Defense Research Institute (DRI). That's the flip side of the ATLA (now called the American Association for Justice-- Ha!).

One area to be cautious about (although this advice has been bandied about for 20 years and the practice is still going) is asbestos defense. At a certain point, these cases are going to go away, but they were a huge, huge gravy train, first for the Big Law firms 30 years ago, and the larger ID firms had them for the last 20 to 25 years..

I don't think ID is bad per se. It all depends what you're doing and who you're doing it with.

EDIT-- on the one hand, over the long run, ID salaries are lower and you don't have the opportunities of making a big lick. However, the work is always, always there. Also, business development is weird. The firms get so dependent on carrier clients that it warps their culture. Finally, if you are at a firm that does billable work (i.e., not captive), get ready to become a master of billing and case assessment and following goofy protocols set by adjusters.

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donatus (Feb 20, 2014 - 5:33 pm)

I started in ID. Learned it. Settled a bunch of cases with plaintiff's attorneys. Realized the majority of them were overpaid nit-wits. At the time e/t settled and it was easy money because there were few barriers of proof. 18 months later went solo at 29 yrs of age. Grinded it out for the first couple years with re closings, wills, per diem, bankruptcy while I built up the plaintiff's PI. 4 years later chucked most of the other stuff and focused on PI and WC. Long story short retired in early 40s. To be a plaintiff's lawyer you have to know what you are doing. That means taking you cases all the way against the mooch defense guys who will gang up on you. That means having confidence where your adversaries and the bench acknowledge that you are a competent opponent. Otherwise they will relish in burying you or forcing you to settle for dimes on the dollar. I knew PI guys who never got the proper training, and as a result they never fully caught on. As a general rule anyone can do the first 80% of a PI case or settle a big case. It's that last 20% that will make or break you. In the long run it was the day to day pounding that broke me as the profession will. No one can beat the profession long term. there's a certain high profile NYC attorney, from a crappy school, who is in the process of learning those hard lessons of hubris, luck,and ambition. Be humble, go about your business, don't blow your money on consumerist waste like the other lemmings (i.e., giveaway is the BMW 2 years out of school), and plan your exit.

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newtoboard99 (Mar 3, 2014 - 12:36 pm)

Are you retired retired, or simply retired from law? If the latter, what are you doing now? I find it hard to believe that you could have retired permanently from working at age 40 unless you literally won the PI lottery and got a huge verdict or settlement AND collected on it.

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reasonable_man (Mar 4, 2014 - 12:25 am)

Why? I know a few 40 to 50 year old plaintiff attorneys that could retire tomorrow (if not for their expensive tastes). These guys live in lavish 2 to 3 acre houses in really nice North Shore towns on LI. If they downsized even a bit and lived a hair more modestly, I have no doubt they could be done working tomorrow if they wanted to stop working.

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cesquisite (Feb 16, 2017 - 1:48 pm)

Looks like I am a late comer to this thread. For 1.5 years, I apprenticed for a solo practiciioner. Experience was good, pay was bad. Had to leave to start my life.

So now I have been doing ID for 6 years. It's ok, but your income will be capped (~$80-90k if you are very lucky) unless you generate an insurance carrier client of your own which is extremely difficult and is becoming increasingly difficult with each passing year. Plus, as an associate at a fairly-large ID firm, you will have many supervisors, each with varying degrees of an interest in nurturing you into a well-rounded lawyer. Simply put, they are either too overloaded with work to "hold your hand," or they are too busy pounding the pavement for more work.

Either way, get used to appearing in court looking like a deer in headlights. I suppose it builds character, but at some point it becomes pointless and somewhat embarrassing, especially where you need to rely on your adversary for guidance.

I just landed a job at a local fairly small plaintiff's (PI and commercial lit.) practice that pays slightly less base salary, but much more in origination fees. Plus, the salaries are not capped, which is a good thing.

Good luck to everyone.

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jd4hire (Feb 16, 2017 - 4:07 pm)

Lots of opinions on here, but I don't think ID is that bad at all. I hate the billable hour, but that spans well beyond ID. Yea, some of the reporting guidelines and BS is annoying, but I'm sure every practice area has stupid annoyances. So much differs on the firm environment. I've been lucky for the most part. The only part of ID I did not like was when I was staff counsel for a large carrier...that was crazy town and I only lasted 5 months. Back at a private firm and by and large really enjoy it (as much as one should enjoy wasting away in an office breaking up your productivity into 6 minute increments).

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goorange888 (Feb 16, 2017 - 5:38 pm)

Can you go into more detail about the large carrier? Was it in a big city and were there "billables"?

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shikes (Feb 16, 2017 - 7:19 pm)

What was the main difference between staff counsel and private?

I frequently speak to codefense that is staff counsel and they seem to have certain pros (albeit, also cons) as compared to private.

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goorange888 (Feb 16, 2017 - 10:47 pm)

Some don't have "billables", and work a normal 8-5.

Some of the other big carriers force you to keep track of what you're doing 24/7, so it is essentially like you are billing.

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parlance (Feb 16, 2017 - 7:24 pm)

Go the plaintiff's route.

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prestiiigiousone (Feb 17, 2017 - 11:22 am)

why?

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parlance (Feb 18, 2017 - 12:30 am)

The possibility of better returns.

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therover (Feb 17, 2017 - 2:31 pm)

I've done private ID and staff counsel. I much prefer the later. It may depend somewhat on the individual dynamics of the firm
or insurance company but I've found staff counsel to be a much better gig.

Even where there are staff counsel "billables" it's not like actually billing and dealing with clients balking at paying and having your bills combed over by a bill reviewer. Plus the volume is greater so it's very easy to make your requirement.

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goorange888 (Feb 17, 2017 - 3:10 pm)

Do you mind sharing what role you are in now?

Also, I have heard from people within the "staff counsel" industry that you're better off staying with an insurance company as staff counsel, even with a lower top-end salary, compared to working in a typical ID firm. Not only due to the less hours/no true billables, but also because you do not have the "dog eat dog" mentality and competitiveness that comes with being an associate in a typical law firm, with regard to gunning for a partner spot.

What are your thoughts on this? I will be working for a large carrier as staff counsel in the NYC/metro area with a 40 hour work week, and do not know what my next move should be.

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lucabrasi33 (Feb 17, 2017 - 7:55 pm)

Staff counsel is great. You get an excellent quality of life and, where I'm at, you can volunteer for other people's trials/mediations/arbitrations to pad your resume, especially from older attorneys that have done a ton of them. The draw back is you learn by doing with few people training you, but if that's how you learn than it is a great place to be. I work with a lot of young attorneys that stay for 1-3 years and then move on to bigger firms. You'll get verdicts under your belt and valuable experience defending depositions, arbitrations, mediations, picking juries, and trying cases. At first, it's an amazing experience. But with time, it gets a little stale b/c how many different ways can you crash a car? I love it b/c they gave me an opportunity right of law school, starting pay between 70-80, and as much experience as I want. It is what you make of it.
Oh, and no billing, which I hear is the worst.

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goorange888 (Feb 17, 2017 - 9:54 pm)

Do you plan on staying for the long haul? What you just described is almost exactly what I'm going to be doing (we might work for the same company), and I do not know how I should approach exit options. Part of me almost feels like this amazing work/life balance will not be achieved elsewhere, and I do not know if I could stomach working 60 hours a week for marginally better pay.

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shikes (Feb 18, 2017 - 9:35 am)

Your company actually tries cases? Seems like mine always settle when it comes right down to it. Also, will they let younger attorneys try juries and not worry about a screw up leading to a major verdict?

In private ID juries are typically reserved for partners, at least in my jurisdiction cause everyone is worried of an excess verdict.

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therover (Feb 18, 2017 - 11:33 pm)

We try a lot of cases. Big and small.

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jd4hire (Feb 19, 2017 - 2:14 pm)

I prefer outside counsel as opposed to staff. My carrier had lots of trials and I got a lot of quick experience with depos, arbitrations, mediations, and court hearings. Pay was decent - 70k (my area that's not too bad). Benefits were great and they had a "pension" system. Not true defined benefits pension, but they put 3.% of your salary in a fund and then would pay it out to you over time (annuity ish) once you retired.

I left simply because it was not how I wanted to practice law. I would have 2-4 "events" on most normal days. An event being an arbitration, mediation, court hearing, or deposition. I covered a large geographic area and might have an arbitration at 9 a.m. in one state and then a deposition at 2 p.m. in an area an hour away by car. This was quick and dirty experience, but I wasn't prepping for anything walking into events like a deer in the headlights. I could have prepped, but I figured I wasn't getting paid enough and they could have cared less about performance.

My case load was right around 100 and I had to cover events for this crazy litigation program they were testing out. I had "billables" but they were as real as monopoly money. 90% of my cases were 0-20k value soft tissue BS with hack job plaintiff attorneys. There were a few interesting ones with good attorneys on the other side, but by and large, very low value.

I also wasn't a fan of the adjuster holding all of the power on 99% of case decisions. Not that I practice in super sophisticated areas now, but I know my cases, I'm prepared for the case events, the attorneys on the other side are good litigators.

Down side, who knows if I'll ever get to try a case.

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bostonlawyer.2 (Feb 19, 2017 - 8:22 pm)

I think ID is a good work to start and get decent general lit experience and gain some solid transferable skills.

The problem in defense is that all the cases seem to settle, and you don;t get any real trial experience. Yeah there might be a couple of trials but the Senior partner will take the lead. You will do a lot of the grunt work.

Plaintiff's attorney work is hard to get off the ground, but has much greater potential in terms of money.

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goorange888 (Feb 20, 2017 - 8:38 am)

People consistently talk about the ridiculously high ceiling for plaintiff's attorneys, and rightfully so. But does this only apply to people that are on partnership level? I know it varies by firm, but are 3rd-4th year plaintiff's associates even making $100k in the NYC area?

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jackiechiles (Feb 20, 2017 - 9:30 am)

From my understanding, many pl firms pay you a moderate salary plus something like 1/3 of collections, so it probably depends on the cases you're getting.

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prestiiigiousone (Feb 27, 2017 - 6:09 pm)

I can't imagine they'd be anywhere close to 100K

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mrtor (Feb 28, 2017 - 9:24 am)

I think its entirely firm dependent. There are prestigious plaintiff's firms and then there are bottom scraping ambulance chasers. In my market, there are few firms in between those extremes and most fall within the latter category. If you latch on with a good firm, and you prove yourself capable of moving cases with good results, there are rewards to be had.

However, unlike ID, you can't just putz around. Performance matters.

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associatex (Feb 22, 2017 - 1:58 am)

It depends on the firm. Just want to point out that my firm (staff counsel for a large ins co in NYC area) does require billables but its very easy to meet them (a typical court appearance is anywhere from 2-7 hours). My firm does allow us to bill for non-litigation tasks (ie we can bill for inter-office meetings). Our starting salaries for new hires is $85-95K, I already passed the $130K mark, and get about 35 days of vacation each year. I have done 0 jury trials (no desire for that TBH) but usually handle as many as 6 bench trials a month.

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prestiiigiousone (Feb 27, 2017 - 2:06 pm)

Hey, is it possible I could e-mail with you privately? As I said in other threads, I have a few years ID experience in NYC and am looking for my next step.

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associatex (Feb 28, 2017 - 1:07 am)

Sure, you can Email me at associatex@live.com

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mrtor (Feb 28, 2017 - 9:19 am)

The funny thing about ID is that vacation is meaningless. It doesn't matter how many days they allot you -- most firms expect you to hit their hours requirements regardless of how much time you do or don't take off. Frequent (and lengthy) court appearances can make billing more bearable though. Does your intra-office billing count toward your goal? I know we have something similar, but I don't even bother since its a worthless metric. I've seen too many newer attorneys get comfortable tallying a lot of non-billable time when it doesn't excuse hitting the billable goal. By year's end, they're working 180-200 hour months.

Hopefully your firm has more complex litigation practices as you gain experience. ID usually devolves into a pyramid scheme since the partners and associates are paid roughly the same rate. The only way to increase your earnings is to add more people below you and take a cut off of them.

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associatex (Feb 28, 2017 - 10:39 am)

It is true that vacation can be meaningless since billable hours must be met every quota, regardless. But that isn't unique to insurance defense. It is pretty universal in almost every law firm that uses a Billable Hour model. The key is to find a firm where you aren't penalized too much for actually using vacation. Very few attorneys actually use 3 or 4 weeks of PTO (we call vacation/personal/sick days 'Paid Time Off') in 1 batch. Most just do 1 week here, 1 week there. The last time I did 2 weeks straight PTO was probably either my wedding or honeymoon. Why I hate doing it because emails pile up and tasks either get post-poned or re-assigned to another attorney (who may or may not handle your case the way you wanted to). So yes, my office definitely allows attorneys to meet our weekly billable requirement (we are measured weekly not monthly) by allowing non-billable activity to be credited (ie phone calls re: case-law trends, interoffice meetings, CLE, training to claim reps on general insurance law stuff) but the bosses know who is "Efficient" and who isn't.

I admit I've gotten a bit jaded/cynical about all of this since I've been doing this over 10 years. I don't really have motivation to leave though as I value stability and good QOL over hustling for a-hole partners. I am fortunate to be in a great working environment (good boss, laid-back co-workers, a decent secretary) so finding a similar set-up at a higher calibre firm would be tough to snag(and in the ID world, "high calibre" would probaby be a Cozen O'Connor Insurance Coverage/ Reinsurance group). Everyone's mileage will vary of course - but if you are doing ID and want to get out of it, its best you do it sooner rather than later because after 5 years, you get pigeonholed.

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feic (Feb 28, 2017 - 4:34 pm)

associatex welcome back we missed you!

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associatex (Feb 28, 2017 - 4:46 pm)

aww thanks! Surprised that some of the same characters are still here and poasting over at Da DOME. I feel like Ferris Bueller at the end of the movie - "you're still here??? Go home!".

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feic (Feb 28, 2017 - 5:15 pm)

Are you still married?

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associatex (Feb 28, 2017 - 5:30 pm)

Yes, happily so.

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feic (Feb 28, 2017 - 6:04 pm)

Good! Sounded like were rocky there but glad you hung in there.

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shikes (Feb 28, 2017 - 10:08 pm)

What are realistic exit options?

I know there are outliers, but I feel like its basically PI firm, Comp or maybe public interest on a pay cut. Although litigation is litigation, I don't see ID jumping to large complex lit firms very often.

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muaddib (Mar 1, 2017 - 12:41 pm)

Bumping because I am curious as well.

Interested in specifics--i.e., where do lawyers go after they leave big ID shops like Gordon Rees/Lewis Brisbois/Wilson Elser?

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2breedbares (Mar 1, 2017 - 1:05 pm)

I never did ID in direct claims but did some insurance coverage lit. I jumped to a quasi-governmental agency.

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associatex (Mar 1, 2017 - 1:26 pm)

I know 4 ex Wilson Elser associates, 2 went solo, 1 works as claims counsel for an AIG affiliate (not sure exactly what she does, but she flies all over the country for testimony), and 1 is a Partner at a smaller gen lit firm.

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jd4hire (Mar 1, 2017 - 2:52 pm)

Want to have your friend who works for the AIG affiliate throw me some work...

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attorneyinct (Mar 2, 2017 - 9:31 am)

Lol to Jd4hire.

To associatex: is the AIG job similar to staff counsel for an insurance firm? Field counsel type?

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associatex (Mar 2, 2017 - 9:57 am)

I'd imagine her position is similar to staff counsel but w/o the legal BS(billing) that would go w/ it. She calls herself a senior analyst, and given she's married w/ a couple of kids and lives in the 'burbs, her job is prob more quasi-legal than legal.

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jd4hire (Mar 2, 2017 - 10:20 am)

I know "Claims Counsel" for Liberty are adjusters with JDs who service high loss claims on complex lines. When I've done legal mal matters, they always have claims counsel and they'll fly all over the country for ADR.

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jd4hire (Mar 2, 2017 - 10:47 am)

And by no means meant "adjusters with JDs" in a derogatory manner. I think they are, for the most part, attorneys who previously litigated in got out of ID litigation.

My experience, though, is that they have large case loads and are constantly chasing reports so as to keep their managers happy.

They are also a lot more involved in strategy and pleadings than most other lines.

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associatex (Mar 2, 2017 - 12:28 pm)

Exactly, I briefly did legal mal cases and 80% of my files had adjusters who were former attorneys, and they were pretty sharp in calling out things in our reports. Its like they enjoyed bossing around the attorneys w/ their "no we wont settle for X amount" or "we demand a jury trial on this one but only limited to X,Y,Z issues" while all they did was email for constant updates/reports. There are quite a few former co-workers from my GL days who are doing this now - its weird because on some GL files my firm handles, the claim rep names on the file are former attorneys I've worked with - so its weird giving out legal advice to them when they already know what you're going to tell them.

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