By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC
Q. I am an 11-year attorney practicing at a small firm on the west coast. We currently focus on business litigation, employment litigation, corporate formation, bankruptcy, wills and trusts, and personal injury. We are trying to expand our practice into the area of insurance defense. To that end, I have been sending out correspondence to insurance companies offering my services in defense of general liability, property/casualty, and employment practices claims. My goal would be to develop a regular stream of business from these types of cases, and to cross-market our other services to clients that come through insurance defense referrals. I am not sure if I am going about this the right way, and would like to seek your counsel.
A. In all honesty, I have more firms asking how to diversify out of insurance defense into more self-insured and direct representation work. If you want to pursue this market you will need to become part of the club and do more than just dabble in this area. You will have to get on the "approved lists" of the various insurance companies. Once you are on these lists you have to entice claims manager to use you as opposed to other law firms that are on their approved lists. In other words, establish relationships with numerous claims manager throughout the company. This is harder than it used to be due to policies that many companies now have prohibiting various forms of networking such as dinners, gifts, ball games, etc. Now days it seems that educational venues is one of the few formats that is not frowned upon. You may also find that some companies reluctant to work with a firm your size.