Due to the number of tables in this section, the editorial is in alphabetical order by firm name.
THE FIRM The Chicago office of this Indiana firm features a 16-strong insurance group, active primarily on the policyholder side. The team has a broad range of clients, from small, privately held businesses to Fortune 500 companies, and is regularly engaged at the cutting edge of coverage work, particularly cyber-coverage.
Sources say: "The group's attorneys are knowledgeable, creative and thorough - three of the attributes most valued by clients."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Adam Hollander is a policyholder litigator championed as a "strategic thinker and impressive negotiator." His recent caseload has included products, environmental, PI, property damage and business interruption claims. These have come in a range of industries, from chemicals, packaging and manufacturing to telecommunications.
THE FIRM This specialist insurance firm is a one-stop shop for insurance and reinsurance companies. The team comprises 65 attorneys, and observers praise a strong bench and a practice that is national in scope. The group is admired for its skill in representing excess carriers and for its particular expertise in railroad work, recently handling a number of mandates relating to passenger and freight train accidents. The firm also has a strong reinsurance practice which handles cutting-edge cases across the USA.
Sources say: "A quality reputation for work on the insurer side."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Bates has lately been busy on behalf of insurers, acting in a number of reinsurance arbitrations. Scott Carey maintains a high profile in reinsurance and coverage cases, with a practice that spans the country. Maria Enriquez is "a no-nonsense lawyer who's excellent in court," according to sources. Daniel Graham represents insurers in coverage cases, with a particular emphasis on IP infringement, unfair business practices and construction defects claims.
THE FIRM This group has an enviable reputation in the reinsurance field, handling many of the biggest cases in the market. A case in point has seen the team representing Liberty Mutual Insurance in its high-profile and high-stakes dispute with AIG, which alleges the misreporting of workers' compensation premiums.
Sources say: "A more experienced and client-friendly group than the competition."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sources single out James Rubin as the "sage of the Reinsurance Bar." He typically leads on the most complex and high-profile of insurance matters, Liberty Mutual's claim against AIG being a prime example. Robert Hermes is known for his expertise handling asbestos and environmental insurance claims, as is Catherine Isely. "She is articulate in hearings and has a detailed understanding of insurance policies," say clients. Ira Belcove has lately been busy with a number of credit insurance disputes and is praised for "responsiveness, diligence and honesty." Julie Rodriguez Aldort has extensive experience handling financial services insurance cases, while Teresa Snider is adept at insolvency-related matters. Snider is acclaimed as "methodical, detail-oriented and aggressive."
THE FIRM SNR Denton's name may be new and its reach may have expanded, but the firm's quality in Chicago is long established. The group is skilled in coverage advice and the team handles cases all around the country. On the transactional side, the firm has a specialist risk management department, which advises many Fortune 500 companies. The group has lately been busy advising on legal issues arising from insurer insolvencies.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Donna Vobornik is praised by clients as "an excellent litigator and a thoughtful business partner." She has handled cases for The Travelers Companies across the USA. Robert Johnson has also spent time on the road, representing Stonewall Insurance and Travelers in coverage cases around the country. "He understands the insurance business and the litigation environment of the United States and acts cooperatively with in-house counsel," enthuse clients. Corinne Carr is another lawyer respected for her regulatory skills. As chair of the firm's innovative risk management group, she advises companies on how to use insurance and alternative means of risk transfer to manage risk.
THE FIRM This global firm's Illinois insurance practice has proved to be robust, navigating the downturn by acting on a steady flow of midmarket transactions. The firm has a particularly strong international reach and is currently advising an established client on an insurance-related business venture which spans 80 countries. The group is also active in reinsurance. A recent engagement saw the team provide coverage, regulatory and arbitration counsel in a dispute involving a hydroelectric power plant in Ecuador.
Sources say: "A group that empowers the client by educating as well as advising."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Stephen Schwab is hailed as "a world-renowned reinsurance arbitrator" by peers. Reinsurance is his specialty and he has considerable transactional expertise to complement his disputes practice. David Mendelsohn focuses on transactional and regulatory work in the insurance and reinsurance fields. "He's very effective at dealing with the disparate regulatory folk you come across," say clients.
THE FIRM Foley & Lardner scooped up seven insurance practitioners in 2010, as Lovells closed its Chicago office following the merger with Hogan & Hartson. The new recruits significantly deepened the bench of an already solid practice, strengthening the firm's standing in the Chicago insurance market. The firm has a strong client following, which includes the reinsurers Hannover Life, ACE and Resolute Management Group.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Eric Haab is "strategic in his thinking, hard working and easy to get on with." Neal Moglin "has a keen understanding of the concepts and nuances of the insurance industry." Gail Goering is "quick on her feet," and praised for her courtroom skills, particularly at arbitrations.
THE FIRM This firm has an excellent reputation for its policyholder practice and has been involved in a number of significant coverage cases. It is acting for Sussex 130 in a case against AIG subsidiary American General Life Insurance, which involves the recession of a $10 million life insurance policy. The group is also representing HSBC in a $20 million D&O coverage claim involving a securities fraud case linked to subprime lending.
KEY INDIVIDUALS "Big-hitter" John Mathias is credited with building the insurance group at Jenner & Block and is a respected and experienced coverage attorney. Christopher Dickinson represents financial institutions and other corporate policyholders in coverage claims.
THE FIRM This firm has a fearsome reputation for prowess in litigation, and its insurance department is no exception. The group typically acts for policyholders and is considered a go-to option for bet-the-company disputes. The team recently represented Dow Chemical in a coverage case relating to a large natural gas leak in Louisiana, which came to a successful close after five years of litigation.
Sources say: "The firm has a relentless, tenacious and formidable litigation culture - facing Kirkland is always bad news for the other side."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Foradas is "an outstanding trial lawyer who inspires great confidence," say clients. Habitually involved in the biggest cases in the market, he is currently advising BP on coverage matters relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Foradas frequently works alongside Nader Boulos, singled out by clients for his pragmatism and attention to detail.
THE FIRM Locke Lord is one of the oldest and most established names in Chicago for insurance law. A nationwide firm, and perhaps more recognized for its national work than its Chicago presence, the group covers the full spectrum of insurance matters. This means insurance and reinsurance across a range of sectors, though the group is particularly active in the life and health insurance arenas. On the deal front, the team advised Humana as it forged a Medicare alliance with CIGNA, and counseled Guardian Life Insurance as it acquired Preferred Dental.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Jon Biasetti typically represents insurers in reinsurance, regulatory and corporate matters. He is cochair of the firm's corporate insurance (transactional) practice, while Nick DiGiovanni heads up the direct insurance practice on the litigation/dispute resolution side and also the firm's reinsurance practice. Paige Waters, who recently joined from SNR Denton, is a regulatory lawyer with a reputation for quality.
THE FIRM Mayer Brown has a blue-chip reputation for transactional work in the insurance sector. As a consequence of its broad network, the firm is able to take on some of the largest deals in Chicago, particularly those with an international component. Clients include Assured Guaranty, AXA and Liberty Mutual.
Sources say: "The group is adroit at the nuances of sophisticated deal making."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Larry Hamilton is a corporate and M&A lawyer with a specific focus on the insurance industry. He is considered to have a particularly strong nationwide regulatory practice. Edward Best is a highly rated transactional lawyer, praised by peers and clients for his knowledge and commercial acumen.
THE FIRM This Chicago boutique is focused on labour law and insurance law. Given such a dedicated focus, and a reputation for being cost-effective, the firm enjoys a high profile on the Illinois insurance scene. At the same time, it is picking up an increasing number of cases of nationwide importance. The team acted for Northern Insurance Group in obtaining a reversal of an $11 million jury verdict in the Supreme Court of California, a case of important precedent for bad faith issues. Another precedent was set in Colorado, the group acting on behalf of Valley Forge in agreeing settlement and the insurer's right to recoup defense costs.
Sources say: "This firm has a high profile on the policyholder side and is considered one of the usual suspects for big coverage litigation."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Scott Seaman is an eminent coverage lawyer with extensive experience in insurance and reinsurance, and besides practicing he writes prolifically on both topics. Younger partner James Kallianis is particularly well respected for his expertise in D&O liability cases. Michael Marick is a senior partner at the firm who frequently advises Zurich, most recently on a number of litigations.
THE FIRM This group is respected for its work directing insurance coverage disputes on the policyholder side. The team recently represented TicketsNow in a coverage litigation brought by Country Mutual Insurance, relating to a defamation claim. The firm also advises several public, private and not-for-profit companies and associations in regards to D&O, fiduciary and other insurance coverage and renewal issues.
Sources say: "Formidable adversaries on the policyholder side."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Angela Elbert is "hot on professional liability and risk management," according to sources. Clients go on to say she "gives balanced advice and is a pleasure to work with." Jill Berkeley is "one of the pillars of the coverage community" in Chicago. She is experienced on both sides of insurance litigation, though these days primarily represents policyholders.
THE FIRM Despite being relatively new to the Chicago scene, arriving in 2008, the firm has rapidly established itself as a major player in the insurance field. The group is especially well respected for its work on the policyholder side and is strong in disputes. The team provides ongoing advice to Union Carbide in thousands of asbestos-related cases pending in New York, and is acting for Cargill in a mass coverage case in Minnesota.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Steven Gilford is a much celebrated policyholder counsel. Clients hail "a pragmatic attorney, well suited to advising large corporate clients." Marc Rosenthal has a broad coverage practice and does a significant amount of counseling work. "He is excellent at explaining complex legal concepts to nonattorneys," say clients.
THE FIRM This firm has rapidly established itself as a go-to group for insurance coverage, since opening in Illinois in 2007. The 20 insurance practitioners based in the Chicago office form the heart of the insurance practice of the whole firm. The group is considered particularly strong on D&O, errors and omissions (E&O), and environmental coverage. Since the start of the recession, it has been retained by a number of lenders to act on mortgage-related disputes.
Sources say: "One of the major policyholder groups in town, with extensive experience and a lot of bodies on the ground."
KEY INDIVIDUALS John Vishneski is particularly well known for his work in E&O, first-party property and fiduciary liability matters. "He's smart and cares about his clients in a way that sets him apart," say clients. Carolyn Rosenberg is primarily recognized for her strength handling D&O liability matters but she also does counseling work, organizing insurance programs and writing policies. James Davis is well versed in tackling class action defense. "He has an unbelievable knowledge base of coverage law and can easily identify the esoteric points," enthuse clients. John Shugrue is well known for handling complex, high-stakes coverage litigation, while Thomas Marrinson is specialized in representing manufacturing and transportation clients on environmental coverage cases. Paul Walker-Bright has lately been active in the mortgage insurance sphere, but is considered a policyholder generalist, acclaimed for his skill in preparing a case. Stanley Nardoni is considered an authority on insurance law by peers, who praise his "his encyclopedic knowledge." He provides the team with valued support and legal opinions.
THE FIRM This group has a broad insurance and reinsurance practice. The team has lately tackled workers' compensation carve-outs, disability benefits, toxic torts, group health, consumer warranty and general commercial insurance matters. Insurer insolvencies are a specialty and the majority of the ten-strong team combines insurance and insolvency knowledge.
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Spector "is a guru - he can beat anyone in the city hands down," enthuse sources. His insurance experience is wide-ranging, but he is particularly well known for his work in the insolvency and regulatory arenas. Antony Burt is strong in advisory and trial modes, and he's praised as a "particularly effective communicator." Dennis Lagory is hailed by peers and clients as an "excellent insurance coverage attorney and a superb writer of legal briefs."
THE FIRM Sidley Austin has strength across the insurance board and is acclaimed for its litigation, transactional, regulatory and reinsurance acumen. Case highlights include representation of Safeco in a coverage dispute with Society of Jesus, Oregon Province (SJOP). Safeco contests that its general liability insurance policies oblige it to defend and indemnify SJOP, as SJOP answers sexual abuse claims dating back to the 1960s. On the deal front, the group has advised State Farm and Chartis on catastrophe bond transactions. The team has also been counseling financial and institutional investors exposed to distressed monoline and mortgage-guaranty insurance companies.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Perry Shwachman is a senior transactional lawyer dedicated to the insurance industry. According to clients: "He marries an excellent knowledge of what is going on in the marketplace with a client-focused service." Michael Goldman is highly regarded on the transactional and regulatory front. He provides outside counsel to the longevity desks of several major financial institutions. William Sneed wins acclaim from peers and clients for being a "highly effective reinsurance litigator." Kenneth Wylie is a regulatory specialist with particular expertise in captive insurance, and alternative insurance generally. Michael Pinsel is another transactional expert and he led the team advising State Farm. Anthony Ribaudo brings corporate and securities law expertise to the team. Clients laud his sharp intellect and business intelligence. Amanda Todd has a similar profile: "She's a strong securities lawyer with good business sense, pleasant to deal with, but tough when required," say sources. Susan Stone has extensive experience as a reinsurance litigator, and is considered an impressively strategic thinker: "She's astute at assessing situations, understanding the incentives and motives of all parties, and thinking several steps ahead." Daniel J Neppl is a young partner with growing expertise in reinsurance disputes. Clients say he's "particularly good at distilling an issue to its essence and then targeting the analysis accordingly." Thomas Cunningham has recently been involved in a number of reinsurance arbitrations and workouts.
THE FIRM This group of 14 practitioners is heavily involved in coverage disputes. The firm regularly acts for CNA and affiliated companies on a range of coverage issues, including bad faith and environmental tort claims. The team also handles a significant number of D&O liability cases, and has lately been advising on insurance issues arising from bankruptcies.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Rebecca Ross is highly regarded for the consistent quality of her work. She has lately been busy with significant coverage cases linked to asbestos claims. David Cutter is building a strong reputation working alongside Ross on a number of high-profile cases for CNA. "He's a cracking young lawyer," say sources.
of McDermott Will & Emery LLP is one of the USA's leading lawyers for captive and other alternative insurance advice. Joe McCullough
is building up the reinsurance practice at Freeborn & Peters LLP, which he joined in 2010. He's considered "smart and experienced, a real force in the market." Mark Goodman
joins McCullough at Freeborn & Peters, having recently left Dewey. He is acclaimed for his regulatory and transactional expertise. James Dwyer
, who also recently left Dewey, has joined Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. He enjoys a strong reputation in Chicago for transactional work. Paula Litt
of Schopf & Weiss LLP is a highly regarded policyholder coverage litigator with broad experience.
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