insurance defense

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Anonymous User
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insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:19 pm

Only offer I have thus far for next summer is with an insurance defense firm. Lots of med mal, mass tort, and product liability work.

30+ attorneys in secondary market

1st year associates make 60K (which I feel is fine given just how rough the market is right now)

So what are the drawbacks of insurance defense? Any positives? I'm going to accept the offer because like I said it's all I have, but I'd like to have some sense of what I may be in for. Thanks

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Kohinoor
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Re: insurance defense

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:25 pm

The biggest downside of ID is that the pay is usually shit. While this isn't a problem in your case, there is also little opportunity for substantive research and skill training plus not much exposure to the kind of clients that lead to good lateral opportunities.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:29 pm

Kohinoor wrote:The biggest downside of ID is that the pay is usually shit. While this isn't a problem in your case, there is also little opportunity for substantive research and skill training plus not much exposure to the kind of clients that lead to good lateral opportunities.


Thanks for the reply. Curious about the bolded. Why little opportunity for substantive research and skill training? That is my fear, though I figure any experience is better than none.

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20160810
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Re: insurance defense

Postby 20160810 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:54 pm

From everything I've been told, the drawbacks are generally:

1.) Low pay - firms can't bill as much for ID as they can for other work on an hourly basis

2.) Zero prestige/few-to-no exit options. The former doesn't matter much, but the latter probably should.

I interviewed at a lot of small (20-50 atty) firms, and all the ones that didn't do any ID (including the firm I ended up choosing, in part because of this) were big about stressing that they didn't do any ID.

If an ID shop is your only option, ITE you take it and you're happy to do so, but it's not the world's most interesting work.

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SteelReserve
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Re: insurance defense

Postby SteelReserve » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:09 pm

Insurance defense is a great place to start if you think you are interested in insurance and PI related work.

Why? While insurance companies have tightened the rope a bit, new associates get to have courtroom experiences very early on if not from the get go, and work their own files early. Often an ID firm will give you lower level cases that you get to work entirely on your own, litigate from start to finish, appear in court for arguments, etc.

These are of course benefits you can't get at a big firm or most entry-level litigation shops, and you get to be salaried while you learn the ropes.

Also, check with your firm based on what associates say, but many ID associates tend to work very reasonable hours; this could depend on your firm.

The trade-off? Lower salaries and salary compression--your raise won't be all that much each year, and bonuses tend to be small (note the "lower" compares only to biglaw, in terms of any other type of entry-level law job, 60k is quite fair and even good). If you went into 150k at a T-14 to get this job, it's problematic, but if you went to lower schools and have reasonable debt, this is a good outcome that justifies the law school investment.

In the end, it's mostly about what you want out of your career in law...many lawyers work ID, learn the ropes while making money and paying back student loans, and ultimately flip to good plaintiffs' firms in order to make serious money. So it's really a long-term outlook that you need to decide whether it is for you or not.

Oh and needless to say, congrats on getting a job ITE, that puts you into the upper echelon of recent law grads.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:58 pm

I had an interview with an ID firm in St. Louis. It seems like most of the ID shops pay around 60-70k. That is decent money, but the work is really boring and the only exit option is to work at an insurance company.

Lastly, if you work transactional stuff at a midlaw/smallish biglaw firm, what exit options would you have there?

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:23 pm

I actually came into law school thinking it would be great to defend doctors and hospitals from malpractice suits and before certification boards. Apparently though this just isn't very challenging or 'respectable' work. I still think I might like it, but I just keep hearing people put down the work.

Another thing I am curious about is whether ID used to be more lucractive and respectable? Many of the partners at the firm are from pretty decent schools, several T14 and T25, etc. and I just wonder what drew them to the field in the first place.

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Kohinoor
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Re: insurance defense

Postby Kohinoor » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I actually came into law school thinking it would be great to defend doctors and hospitals from malpractice suits and before certification boards. Apparently though this just isn't very challenging or 'respectable' work. I still think I might like it, but I just keep hearing people put down the work.

Another thing I am curious about is whether ID used to be more lucractive and respectable? Many of the partners at the firm are from pretty decent schools, several T14 and T25, etc. and I just wonder what drew them to the field in the first place.

ID partners are probably making really good money...

Aqualibrium
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Re: insurance defense

Postby Aqualibrium » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:45 pm

I don't think insurance defense firms universally have low salaries either. I interviewed at several with starting salaries of six figures.

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Veyron
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Re: insurance defense

Postby Veyron » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:23 pm

What makes the work boring?

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nealric
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Re: insurance defense

Postby nealric » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:28 pm

I don't think insurance defense firms universally have low salaries either. I interviewed at several with starting salaries of six figures.


There is high end and low end insurance defense. Biglaw firms will do insurance defense for higher profile matters. Most people think of the low-end shops when they think insurance defense.

Low end insurance defense = Defending against $2000 MIST (minor impact soft tissue) auto accident claims.
High end insurance defense = defending against a $100 million claim on a commercial liability policy.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:56 pm

Veyron wrote:What makes the work boring?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: insurance defense

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:39 am

ID is basically the shittiest of shitlaw... If you ever read on JDUnderground, yeah, that's what a lot of those guys do. Typically, pay is terrible and the work will be sweatshop hours (so basically biglaw 60+ hour weeks for $40-60K /year -- economically, you'd be better off just working as a garbageman, a UPS delivery driver, or a crack dealer in the ghetto).

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Re: insurance defense

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:41 am

Veyron wrote:What makes the work boring?


It's not very challenging or interesting work... Torts just ain't that hard meng (e.g. Joe Blow's auto accident leg injury isn't really as complex or interesting as Lehman bros chapter 11 bankruptcy).

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:08 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Veyron wrote:What makes the work boring?


It's not very challenging or interesting work... Torts just ain't that hard meng (e.g. Joe Blow's auto accident leg injury isn't really as complex or interesting as Lehman bros chapter 11 bankruptcy).


But aren't medmal , mass torts, and product liability defense different than the bolded example? You seem to be pointing to the very worst, most uninteresting type of ID law

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Re: insurance defense

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:21 am

Anonymous User wrote:
XxSpyKEx wrote:
Veyron wrote:What makes the work boring?


It's not very challenging or interesting work... Torts just ain't that hard meng (e.g. Joe Blow's auto accident leg injury isn't really as complex or interesting as Lehman bros chapter 11 bankruptcy).


But aren't medmal , mass torts, and product liability defense different than the bolded example? You seem to be pointing to the very worst, most uninteresting type of ID law


Med mal is really similar to auto negligence in term so being the "very worst, most uninteresting type of ID law." As for mass torts and products liability, as nealric previously stated, there are different types of ID firms. Shit like auto negligence is the more typical type of ID firm that people think of when talking about ID firms. Mass torts at a lower end ID firm will consist of asbestos litigation, which is complete shitlaw. Product liability will be something like a guy who tried to commit suicide with a product who screwed up and his family is suing for the guy's mental incapacitation. None of these cases are very complex or challenging in comparison to something defending Philip Morris in its mass tort litigation or working on the restructuring of Chrysler and GM Corporation.

Obviously, you have to look at your other options. If low end ID is the best you can get, then you have make a decision as to how much you really want to be a lawyer and whether you think this is something you can really see yourself doing. But given other options, ID isn't the best route to begin your legal career (unless you are weird and have an actual desire to work in ID and also have low student debt).

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:46 am

My dad and my sis' boyfriend's father both do auto-accident variety ID, so I'm going to clear up some things:

Any halfway decent ID-auto job is basically in-house at an insurance company. These ID attorneys aren't just sitting around reviewing documents all day - they go to trial. At the bigger insurance companies, like All-State/Geico, they are pretty much in court almost every day since those companies hate to settle. The hours ARE shorter (~45/week); and this hasn't changed in however many years it's been.

Now, there are negatives. The pay definitely isn't good to start out (it's only "okay" now after years; first years in BigLaw make more) and the management blows at all of them and there's no "prestige". But if you want to be in court on the civil side, it's not a bad way to go (it's probably still considered "shitlaw" but whatever). However, the ID that I know of has nothing to do with "sweatshops" that work you 60+ hours/week. I don't doubt their existence, but when I tried to bring it up to my dad he gave me a LOLwut? face.

All that said, OP, your ID offer doesn't sound bad at all and it's not auto-accident cases (it sounds more like complex litigation, which probably means less court, but more $$) so this probably doesn't apply. Sorry for the hijack!

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Re: insurance defense

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My dad and my sis' boyfriend's father both do auto-accident variety ID, so I'm going to clear up some things:

Any halfway decent ID-auto job is basically in-house at an insurance company. These ID attorneys aren't just sitting around reviewing documents all day - they go to trial. At the bigger insurance companies, like All-State/Geico, they are pretty much in court almost every day since those companies hate to settle. The hours ARE shorter (~45/week); and this hasn't changed in however many years it's been.

Now, there are negatives. The pay definitely isn't good to start out (it's only "okay" now after years; first years in BigLaw make more) and the management blows at all of them and there's no "prestige". But if you want to be in court on the civil side, it's not a bad way to go (it's probably still considered "shitlaw" but whatever). However, the ID that I know of has nothing to do with "sweatshops" that work you 60+ hours/week. I don't doubt their existence, but when I tried to bring it up to my dad he gave me a LOLwut? face.

All that said, OP, your ID offer doesn't sound bad at all and it's not auto-accident cases (it sounds more like complex litigation, which probably means less court, but more $$) so this probably doesn't apply. Sorry for the hijack!


I think working for the actual insurance company is different than working for a smaller law firm that the insurance company pays to defend its claims. As for hours at a firm, it all depends on the firm (there are so many of them out there that it is hard to generalize all of them), and the attorney himself. A 2100+ billable hour requirement is far from unheard of at ID shops. Some attorneys can bill 2150 hours a year while only working 45 hours /week. Most can't, especially when first starting out (keep in mind these insurance companies are really stingy about billable hours). Also, I'm not sure about the attorneys are "pretty much in court almost every day since those companies hate to settle" part either. That might be true for their in-house attorneys, but it's definitely not when they pay a law firm to handle their cases. The insurance company wants to spend as little money as possible defending these cases, and for a $2000 case it just doesn't make sense to bill up 20+ hours @ $150-200 /hr to go to trial over it (keep in mind there's a LOT that happens before a case goes to trial, such as deposing each party involved, finding and deposing experts, going through various motions and negotiations, etc, etc.) Although, an ID attorney will definitely find himself in court a lot sooner than a biglaw attorney would, but that's true with working at just about any smaller law firm.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:57 pm

OP, all of the in house people at my pre-LS employer had roughly 5-7 years experience prior to joining the company. My pre-LS employer paid in house lawyers roughly $100K base + 25% bonus target + stock options (don't know the value on those). Obviously you won't top out like Biglaw but the in house folks worked 45 hours a week, had 3 to 6 weeks of vacation a year (depending on tenure with the company) + 6 holidays a year and virtually no weekends.

Note: Some corporate employers do allow for regional pay differences. The $100K salary was for what was considered a lower COL area. My employer would pay a premium up to 25% for people in more expensive markets. Target bonus was based strictly off of corporate results instead of individual results. I was there for five years and there was only one time where the company failed to hit the target bonus.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:00 pm

why is med mal defense akin to auto? any med mal defense lawyers able to put in their two cents about what it is like? Also, the specific firm here does do plenty of abestos litigation, but it seems like plenty of very decent firms also do this work. Also, their product liability work includes medical devices, tobacco, etc.

Also, because I am obsessively researching, in a lot of the cases they have been involved in their co-counsel and opposing counsel are some very impressive firms. Does that indicate anything about the nature of the work they are taking on? Thanks again for your input, really helpful.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:14 pm

At my first firm, I split my time between "insurance defense" and commercial litigation. However, the insurance defense work that firm did was on the high end, i.e. serious carriers with actual real cases, i.e. toxic tort, products liability, real malpractice claims, etc. These cases often had large law firms (v15), as co-defendants and required a real understanding of the law. Another solid area in NY is the NY Labor Law for construction accidents where multiple layers of insurance are at issue and cases often go up on appeal. In short, at a firm that does that level of work, its not bad at all. When I left, my salary was about to be raised to 80k before bonus and I was only admitted to practice for one year. Frankly, thats not awful. Ultimately, I left to go to a small wall street firm where the percentage of ID work as compared to working for direct direct clients on more complicated matters would be much smaller. However, I still have a few ID cases I handle, which allow me to handle the matter from start to finish. Its good training and its steady work, which is why many firms use it as a supplement.

When you're talking about ID work you cannot just broadly use the term ID. There are too many variants. If you're talking about defending 15k rear-end soft tissue auto accident cases, that is one thing. However, if you're defending a Fortune 50 company in a products liability action with potential serious exposure (which I have gotten to do), then that is quite another. As with all things, it really depends on what you're doing.

For high end ID in a primary market, associates 1 to 8 years will typically earn 60k to 140k or so. Partners typically earn 150k to a few million for the very best/sought after (i.e. the ones with a huge book of business). I understand that on TLS, 80k before bonus for 55 hours a week is awful, but I was ok with that.

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:20 pm

reasonable_man wrote:For high end ID in a primary market, associates 1 to 8 years will typically earn 60k to 140k or so.


I'm the poster that posted immediately before you. The salary numbers I posted were in house for something like a personal auto/home carrier (top 5 in market share). A primary market like NY or SF (with offices likely being in the suburbs) would be looking at around a 25% premium on top of what I posted. I'm a little surprised to see the in house guys doing low end ID work making more than "high end" ID guys, especially when you consider the stock options. I suppose the difference can be partially explained by the fact that the in house guys aren't going to have partners eating up the lion's share of the compensation? The in house guys still report to a manager (typically a JD as well) but that manager isn't making anywhere near the partner type money you posted (probably capped at around $160K + SO).

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Re: insurance defense

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:For high end ID in a primary market, associates 1 to 8 years will typically earn 60k to 140k or so.


I'm the poster that posted immediately before you. The salary numbers I posted were in house for something like a personal auto/home carrier (top 5 in market share). A primary market like NY or SF (with offices likely being in the suburbs) would be looking at around a 25% premium on top of what I posted. I'm a little surprised to see the in house guys doing low end ID work making more than "high end" ID guys, especially when you consider the stock options. I suppose the difference can be partially explained by the fact that the in house guys aren't going to have partners eating up the lion's share of the compensation? The in house guys still report to a manager (typically a JD as well) but that manager isn't making anywhere near the partner type money you posted (probably capped at around $160K + SO).



Are you going to an inhouse office or an actual firm?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: insurance defense

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:any med mal defense lawyers able to put in their two cents about what it is like?


There's seriously something like 3-5 actual attorneys that post on this forum. I highly doubt you are going to get a response from an actual practicing med mal attorney here.


Anonymous User wrote: why is med mal defense akin to auto?


The reason it is akin to auto is because it is basically the same type of shitlaw... Most of the arguments you'll see on motions for summary judgment are going to basically be the same (e.g. defective affidavit or merit, defective notice of intent, lack of causation, statute or limitations & discovery rule). While the stories of what actually happened are interesting (like with auto accidents), the work itself is not going to be very challenging (torts generally is not a very complex area of law).

Anonymous User wrote: Also, the specific firm here does do plenty of abestos litigation, but it seems like plenty of very decent firms also do this work.


Asbestos litigation is a constant stream of money is probably why many firms do it. It's really, really shitty work though. Depositions will consist of a group of 15 attorneys jerking around in a room reading newspapers, etc and have literally a list of questions that they ask at every deposition. This is not how depositions work outside of asbestos litigation. Furthermore, asbestos is so old and the filing have been dropping by so much (since no one uses it anymore) that the law is probably going to be all set in the state where you practicing with nothing new happening in it. So basically you will be at some state trial court trying to figure out what was decided at some court 10 years ago that will resolve the issue in your case (as oppose to actually making arguments as to the interpretation of some law or what some other case actually means as applied to the facts of your case -- all of that will already have been decided). The biggest negatives to asbestos litigation is that you won't develop a lot of litigation skills making you less useful for anything outside of asbestos litigation, and asbestos litigation has to end at some point here, which is not a good thing for your career when you are starting out now learning only asbestos litigation (assuming you end up specializing in it, like a lot of attorneys in that practice area do).

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Re: insurance defense

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:34 pm

think there is some confusion here. Original OP here, and I am going to a firm. Reasonable Man, do you know much about med mal defense? Because this is the one part of ID law I am most naturally drawn to, even if it gets a bad rap. Thanks again.




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