Insurance Defense Salaries

I'm a top one-third graduate from St. John's and it is abundGuest11/22/08
10 year old you will be making about 100k, but you have to lGuest11/22/08
In terms of insurance defense I'm talking about the usual cGuest11/22/08
100-120k for people with that much experience is common. TheGuest11/22/08
ID firms have an extremely high turn-over rate. Really hardGuest11/22/08
To the OP Post your email and I will contact you off the Guest11/22/08



Guest (Nov 22, 2008 - 2:49 pm)

I'm a top one-third graduate from St. John's and it is abundantly clear that if I continue to remain the the legal profession that the only career opportunities will be as an insurance defense associate. Is there anyone here or do they know someone who has remained with an ID firm such as Wilson Elser, Kral Clerkin, Lester Schwab, Brody Fabiani, Bivona Cohen, etc., for ten years or more? Is it possible to make a career in ID? If so, what could one expect as a top salary in ID as a mere associate without a source of business?

Thank you for your time and you replies.

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Guest (Nov 22, 2008 - 2:49 pm)

10 year old you will be making about 100k, but you have to last that long. It depends on the firm and the work. ID is a huge area. There are many types of ID cases ranging from NF and home owners crap all the way to bonded claims worth tens of millions of dollars. Biglaw handles all the good work though and toilet law fights over the scraps.

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Guest (Nov 22, 2008 - 2:49 pm)

In terms of insurance defense I'm talking about the usual case load at the firms I identified: MVAs, slips/trips, and Labor Law 200, 240(1) and 241(6).

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Guest (Nov 22, 2008 - 2:49 pm)

100-120k for people with that much experience is common. The problem is lasting that many years doing such shit work and not wanting to kill yourself.

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Guest (Nov 22, 2008 - 2:49 pm)

ID firms have an extremely high turn-over rate. Really hard to last 10 years.

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Guest (Nov 22, 2008 - 2:49 pm)

To the OP

Post your email and I will contact you off the board and give you some solid advice. I have about 5-7 yrs of experience in ID (ranging from NF to Labor Law 240/toxic torts and legal malpractice defense). I can tell you that 7-10 yrs of ID experience will get you over $85K salary, prob more like $100-130K but it depends on:

(1) the type of firms you work at (you rarely stay at any 1 law firm for more than 2 or 3 years because you get job offers from other firms all the time), and
(2) how well you get along with the people.
(3) results (trial verdicts)
(4) whether you bring in business (ie insurance company accounts) which can significantly raise your value (as much as a cut of 15-30% of the profits generated by bringing them in, or getting promoted to Partnership quicker).

I know very few attys who started out at decent large places like Wilson Elser, L'Abbatte Balkan, Lester Schwab (for the record, WEMED and LKD rarely hire entry levels, you need at least 2-3 yrs of solid ID experience to get an interview) actually stay that long. I know a 5th year associate at WEMED makes roughly $105K. Starting salaries are 72-76K for WEMED NYC.

The most common path of ID associates looking to make $ is
1. start at small law ID firm (a firm like Stockschlader McDougal or many NF ID places like Melli Guerin) for $45-50K
2. get raise at 1st law firm to $55-60K after 1 year.
3. jump ship in 2nd or 3rd year to next law firm for $65-70K. Stay there and hopefully do a decent enough job to not get fired and/or qualify for raise (anywhere from 2 to 10% depending on how greedy the partners are).
5. repeat process 1 - 3 until you move up the chain of command (either make Partner at the firm, or move to another law firm where its possible).

I must warn you though success in ID is measured by happy your client is, and most insurance company clients SUCK in that respect. If you represent a cheap toilet company like American Transit or Chubb Ins., or some other no-name Ins Co/TPA - they look to slash your rates and complain about results. At 1 law firm, we had partners basically begging the ins companies for business and offering bottom dollar flat rates of $85/hr because there were so many other law firms vying for the account. Then the partners pretty much slash associates time because they dont want to submit a high invoice to the ins company for fear of losing the account.

Defending an ins company is by no means an easy task. Have an associate send a status report with a few errors, or have them learn that another law firm charges only $5,000 to defend a case from inception to trial instead of paying your firm $10K for the same job - and boom, that client can just walk out the door.

This is why partners treat associates like crap and why they offer crappy salaries. However, the upside to ID is that you get litigation experience right away. My 2nd day at a mid sized ID firm in 2005, I was told to cover a compliance conference, and my week 3 I was doing depositions on a weekly basis. You will learn the ropes quickly but don't expect anyone to help you. You have to be pro-active and ask a lot of hard questions.

Like I said, feel free to post an email and I will contact you off the board w info about specific firms and the nature of ID work in NYC.

good luck.

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