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Ask the Experts

Q: I am an insurance professional with a law degree and I am interested in practicing law, preferably insurance coverage and or defense work. What is the best way to apply my skills to legal practice?

A: As an insurance professional with a law degree, you might first consider employment with a major insurance company, or with private firms with which these insurers contract to handle some of the insurer's litigation. However, you should not limit your options.

As with any practice area, law firms are most interested in attorneys who possess in-depth knowledge of their clients' business. An insurance professional knows the insurance business better than attorneys. This knowledge is what you need to 'sell' to a potential employer. An insurance professional with a law degree has knowledge of the claims process and the obligations of insurers, but you also need to emphasize your extensive knowledge of cutting edge law involving general policy defenses, coverage issues arising under specific policy types, including general liability, commercial and personal auto, homeowners, directors and officers, and employment practice liability coverage, disputes arising under excess, umbrella and reinsurance contracts.

Also emphasize your ability to analyze claims and make recommendations to clients. Firms often market themselves to potential clients by offering training on appropriate claims handling practices to minimize liability. You might contact insurance defense firms and offer to assist them in providing such training to clients.

One of the best ways to obtain guidance on how to utilize your law degree is to schedule an informational interview with a member of an insurance defense firm. Be prepared to impress him/her with your knowledge of the law as it relates to their business. This should serve to elicit interest in you.

Also consider joining a networking group of insurance professionals. This may allow you to make contact with someone who coordinates the insurer's work with outside law firms.