Civility. Collegiality. These tenets are frequently used to describe the type of behavior that members of the legal profession should display. Unfortunately, too often, I have heard about or seen instances of lawyers on opposite sides of an issue employing unprofessional tactics, verbal abuse, and other behavior that threatens the integrity of the legal profession.
It is unfortunate whenever this type of behavior occurs; however, I have found a group where opposing sides are not just friendly with each other, but they are actually friends outside of the courtroom. That group is the Insurance Law Section of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.
The Insurance Law Section brings together lawyers representing policyholders, insurance companies, and other entities related to the insurance industry in various types of insurance coverage cases. The section’s mission is to provide quality CLE programs, professional development, and networking opportunities for its members. As the 2019-20 Chair of the Insurance Law Section, I am pleased to represent such an excellent group of legal professionals.
I initially became involved in the Insurance Law Section in 2012 when it was first established. When I first joined the section, I did not know what to expect. As a newer lawyer with limited experience in the practice area, the only insurance lawyers that I knew were at my firm. Until that point, I had only seen opposing counsel’s names on a brief. I arrived at my first meeting and was pleasantly surprised by the level of interaction between lawyers who were frequently on opposite sides in cases. It was refreshing to see everyone engaged in lively discussions about professional and personal events.
For those interested in the Insurance Law Section, there are several opportunities for networking and professional development. Throughout the year, the section will host after-work receptions (with the next happy hour event in the fall). The section will also hold CLE seminars on cutting edge topics, such as insurance and the cannabis industry, insurance coverage for losses from phishing scams, and how homeowner’s policies respond to claims against an individual, where industry thought-leaders share insights into the latest trends and best practices.
The section also provides access to educational resources to its members. The section sends an insurance law e-bulletin with summaries of insurance law cases recently decided in Ohio’s appellate courts, the district courts of Ohio, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. For individuals seeking to become certified specialists with the Supreme Court in the area of insurance law, the section provides study materials created by other members who have successfully passed the exam. The section will also assist in organizing a study group for interested members.
But, the best part of the section — and a great reason to attend monthly meetings — is the ability to obtain and share advice and recommendations on a legal issue with your peers. During the section meeting, we allow and encourage members to seek input from the group about any issue that the lawyer is having difficulty with. Typically, the lawyer will receive responses from counsel representing policyholders and insurers, so the lawyer obtains both perspectives.
I guarantee that you will see the benefits of joining and becoming an active member. You will mingle with other members in your practice area and contribute to the community by creating useful content. Every time I leave a meeting or event, I am always reminded of the camaraderie among the lawyers in our section that transcends any particular issue or dispute in a case. As Chair, I am looking forward to providing members with the same benefits that have kept me engaged in the Insurance Law Section over the years.
Our section meets the second Tuesday of every month at noon and we welcome new attendees. Hope to see you at our next meeting!
Gabe Kelly is an attorney at Brouse McDowell focusing on insurance recovery and litigation. She is a Certified Specialist in Insurance Coverage Law, and has been a member of the CMBA since 2007. She can be reached at (216) 830-6826 or email@example.com.