Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dewey & LeBoeuf Insurance Defense Clients: Up for Grabs?

The stream of partner departures from Dewey’s highly regarded insurance defense practice puts valuable client relationships in play.

Mayer Brown, DLA Piper, Patton Boggs, and Hogan Lovells are a few of the Big Law firms that have attracted some of the more than 20 insurance partners fleeing the financially troubled Dewey. What’s interesting is that the departing partners are heading in multiple directions. The insurance practice break-up implies that clients will be forced to choose who to follow and where to take their business.

A case in point is Primerica, a life insurer in Georgia, which the Wall Street Journal reported was working with two Dewey partners on a transaction. The two partners both left Dewey, each going to a different law firm. All parties were able to work together to complete the transaction, but what happens next?

Insurance defense is a highly competitive market, particularly at the enviable billable hour rates in this upper echelon. Competitors realize that the best time to make inroads with insurance carriers is when an existing insurance panel member falls out of favor. The clouded outlook for Dewey’s insurance practice is likely to create openings for these coveted insurance panel counsel positions.

From the perspective of an insurance company’s panel manager, now might be a good time to look for lower priced providers. This could take the form of a Request for Proposal (RFP), referrals from other carriers or panel members, and certainly high level networking.

Large regional firms will definitely try to step up to the plate as new insurance defense business opportunities open up. Existing panel members are also in a good position to expand their share of the pie by welcoming transfer files.

The next three to six months will represent a scramble as insurance carriers seek new panel members, and insurance defense law firms vie for potentially lucrative new panel business.

One thing is certain; it will be interesting to watch!

Author Margaret Grisdela is available to answer questions about insurance defense marketing campaigns. Learn more at

No comments: