Of all the areas of legal practice, I’ve always considered insurance law to be an underrated outlier – both in how little is known about it outside of those who practice it, and for the unique career opportunities that it can present.
Almost all of the lawyers that I meet have a similar story about how they came to work in their specialisation. They either gravitated towards the “glamourous” practice areas straight out of law school – usually commercial disputes or M&A – or they ‘fell into’ some area or another.
No one starts out their legal careers committed to practicing insurance. But why not?
Here is a list of reasons why I think insurance lawyers have it better than most:
- The clients are sophisticated and seasoned litigators: Insurance lawyers are briefed by claims managers within insurance companies. These claims managers are often legally qualified and have a far more commercial outlook than business owner or individual clients, who have a personal stake in the dispute.
- Work/life balance: Your clients will typically leave the office ‘on time’, so after-hours requests are rare. The face that the majority of specialist insurance teams sit outside of the traditional top-tier firms doesn’t hurt either.
- Varied work: An insurance practice provides a unique opportunity for career-long exposure to a variety of issues. This holds true even if you choose to specialise in a narrow subcategory of insurance. For example, a specialist Professional Indemnity lawyer may act for professionals as diverse as psychiatrists, company directors and engineers.
- Pathway to partnership: The allocation of the majority of work by insurers to law firms is determined by panel appointments. This means that insurance lawyers have a steady stream of work from no more than 4-5 clients at a time, giving them the opportunity to develop deep relationships with claims managers from early on in their career. These relationships open up simpler and quicker pathways to partnership.
- Easy transitions in-house: Closer relationships with clients will always mean more opportunities to join them on the other side. Insurance companies have large claims teams and hire regularly from their panel providers.