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Insurance Co Staff Cousel or InHouse Coverage Counsel

Any thoughts on pros/cons of these positions. Salary is ro therover01/10/18
I do staff counsel. It’s the best job I’ve had. It’s a ambulancechaser201301/10/18
If you like the pressure of taking the bar exam every day th ambulancechaser201301/10/18
I'm honestly shocked that salary is the same. Staff counsel shikes01/10/18
I’d rather run for the US Senate as a Democrat against Mit ambulancechaser201301/10/18
I think the trick here is that people need to understand wha shikes01/10/18
Credited. Bottom line is you have to know your skill set and ambulancechaser201301/10/18
I have the skill set and have done both before (and liked bo therover01/11/18
I would take the coverage position. It's less volume and pr miketrout01/11/18
Second caveat: I am assuming you are providing coverage opin miketrout01/11/18
Coverage is not that difficult unless you live in a jurisdic 2breedbares01/11/18
I agree with this. The coverage position is a true "in-hous miketrout01/11/18
"X happened to our insured. Here's their policy/application onehell01/11/18
also. Please note: not all carriers try cases like crazy. Se ambulancechaser201301/11/18
I know this was not mentioned as an option, but if you reall ambulancechaser201301/11/18
therover (Jan 10, 2018 - 8:08 pm)

Any thoughts on pros/cons of these positions. Salary is roughly the same. Staff counsel for insurance company would be a decent variety of cases (not only auto). Lots of trial work. In house coverage would be writing coverage opinions and managing coverage and bad faith litigation.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 10, 2018 - 8:26 pm)

I do staff counsel. It’s the best job I’ve had. It’s all auto. I love it.

I would not do coverage for $150,000.00 a year. I’d get fired in 2 weeks. To much analysis. Way too hard.

Auto is civil litigation lite. You get to say you do civil and it’s relatively cake. I’d do coverage or hard work like that only if I had to (ie wife and 2 kids need my paycheck).
PI defense is the best.

To me the question is a no brainer. I’ll take volume any day over intense work.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 10, 2018 - 8:31 pm)

If you like the pressure of taking the bar exam every day then work on bad faith insurance coverage issues.

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shikes (Jan 10, 2018 - 8:32 pm)

I'm honestly shocked that salary is the same. Staff counsel doing auto cases are a dime a dozen. They usually pay ~85k for a mid-level attorney to do brainless red car hits blue car cases over and over and over again. Basically an entry level who gets 2 months of solid supervising could handle. In house coverage, at least in my experience, is serious money as the skillset is not one you can scoop up off the street. The majority of attorneys simply can't do coverage cause they can't think and analyze the issues well enough and/or can't write well enough. There is also a lot on the line at times if you get it "wrong".

Staff counsel is much "easier" so I'd take that if the salary is truly the same. I'd try and get an idea of how many files you would get at both though. If coverage counsel is literally just doing coverage opinions and overseeing bad faith cases that other attorneys are doing (I presume you mean you're not actually HANDLING the bad faith case yourself), it can get boring for people who don't truly love coverage.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 10, 2018 - 8:35 pm)

I’d rather run for the US Senate as a Democrat against Mitt Romney in Utah than do insurance coverage. The results would be equally successfully. Sorry for 3 posts in a row, I just feel really strong about this matter.

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shikes (Jan 10, 2018 - 8:56 pm)

I think the trick here is that people need to understand what coverage work truly is before jumping into it. I'd say the majority of attorneys I know absolutey hate coverage work, don't understand it, or both. A lot of attorneys really like it, and top coverage attorneys get paid a ton and a lot of times end up jumping to senior in-house positions at insurance companies. Like I said, I've done both and it doesn't take a ton of skill that an entry level can't learn in 6 months to work up files as staff counsel. Not everyone can do coverage.

The other thing is checking into how much volume is expected. I have staff counsel I work with that have 200+ files. They can't remember the facts of the case half the time let alone have time to properly work up a file. This ends in numerous cut corners and a sloppy job defending the case. If the insurer doesn't care cause they "get it" then fine, but if you're gonna get reprimanded about it I wouldn't go that route.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 10, 2018 - 9:01 pm)

Credited. Bottom line is you have to know your skill set and what you want to do/can do. I’d rather be in trial every month on an auto case and take 10 depositions a month and have 5 court appearances a week than do coverage work.

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therover (Jan 11, 2018 - 6:51 am)

I have the skill set and have done both before (and liked both). My sense is the coverage job would be less stressful, less volume. But you are right about likely being dry. The staff counsel would be a high volume of cases, hourly billing. Not all auto but dealing with more complex cases, in federal court sometimes. The burn out rate seems to be high.

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miketrout (Jan 11, 2018 - 9:31 am)

I would take the coverage position. It's less volume and probably higher upside in terms of salary. You can also usually maneuver between different parts of the legal department, or get a higher-end claims position or work for a broker. Its usually a good lifestyle and you don't have to schlep from courthouse to courthouse, so your schedule is pretty consistent.

The caveat would be if you have a personal preference. For instance, if you like litigation and hate coverage (like ambulancechaser), take the litigation position.

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miketrout (Jan 11, 2018 - 9:32 am)

Second caveat: I am assuming you are providing coverage opinions and managing the litigation, not doing the litigation yourself. It's a pretty sweet gig, in my opinion. Keep in mind, the majority of coverage opinions aren't written. They are usually just discussed verbally. You can also farm the harder stuff out to outside counsel.

Notice how you even recognized that the coverage position is less stressful, and the burnout rate of staff counsel seems high. There is a reason for that. The coverage positions are usually harder to come by too.

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2breedbares (Jan 11, 2018 - 10:36 am)

Coverage is not that difficult unless you live in a jurisdiction where the law isn't fully fleshed out. In jurisdictions like CA, most coverage terms in major CGLs have already been litigated in appellate courts.

I would take the coverage job. I don't think it's close. Once you take the staff attorney job, you're stuck doing direct liability claims. It's not true "in-house" unlike the coverage job. I would only take the PI job if you wanted trial experience before going plaintiff's side on your own.

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miketrout (Jan 11, 2018 - 11:50 am)

I agree with this. The coverage position is a true "in-house" job. The PI job is better if you want trial experience.

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onehell (Jan 11, 2018 - 5:17 pm)

"X happened to our insured. Here's their policy/application representations/etc."

Then you go play on Westlaw for awhile and based on what you find, come back and tell them whether to defend, defend under reservation of rights, disclaim, or (in the bad faith context) whether to hold firm on policy limits. Then if it gets ugly you just farm it out and monitor the law firm bills.

Is it like that? Sounds kinda fun actually. Kinda like a job where you just google stuff for people all day, assuming of course that it's in one of the well-developed jurisdictions you describe.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 11, 2018 - 11:56 am)

also. Please note: not all carriers try cases like crazy. Seriously. You need to know how many cases you will be trying. It might be as little as one a year at most. Maybe it might be 1 a month, though that’s far less likely. Like I tell all my clients: 98% of tort personal injury cases settle and for soft tissue cases it’s like 99%.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jan 11, 2018 - 11:58 am)

I know this was not mentioned as an option, but if you really want trial experience criminal law is the way to go: district attorney, city attorney, or public defender. I know one lawyer who tried 30 cases in criminal court in 3 years and 30 cases in civil court in 30 years.

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