Insurance staff counsels can use some firm names

first_imgInsurance staff counsels can use some firm names Insurance staff counsels can use some firm names Senior EditorAttorneys on the payroll of insurance companies who refer to themselves as law firms must provide “adequate disclosure” of their actual employment status and meet other new guidelines, according to a special commission report that has been endorsed by the Board of Governors.The Special Commission on Insurance Practices II made its report at the board’s March 15 meeting in Tallahassee. Its recommendations include changes to Rules 4-1.7 and 4-7.10, and cover issues ranging from whether nonlawyer insurance employees impermissibly exercise too much oversight on how a case is handled to when the staff attorney may represent both the policyholder and the insurance company.The report will be passed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on related issues the week before the Board of Governors met.“We could not find a single instance of harm to the public by in-house insurance defense counsel operating under a firm name. We could not find a single instance where a grievance had been filed,” commission Chair Mike McMahon reported to the board. “We are given as a fact that in-house insurance defense counsel exist, have existed, and the Supreme Court has approved it. They are all under one roof. Given that fact, we have looked at what we can do to regulate it for the public interest.”Some board members questioned the recommendations, saying it raised issues related to multidisciplinary practices, but other board members disagreed and approved the report.The commission’s findings and recommendations included:• Existing rules and laws allow insurance defense staff attorneys to identify “themselves by a name such as ‘Law Office of John Doe’ or ‘John Doe & Associates,’ so long as there is both adequate disclosure of the employment relationship and compliance with the minimum standards essential to constitute a law firm as set forth in the report.” McMahon said the commission recommended that such captive firms not be allowed to use P.A. in their names because they are not P.A.s. As to whether more than one name could be used in the firm title, McMahon said this issue would have to be resolved case-by-case. He noted New Jersey allows multiple names, but requires that anyone so named must be jointly and severally liable for any action by any firm attorney.• Rule 4-7.10 should be amended to include standards when insurance staff counsel want to identify themselves as a law firm. “These standards include the functional and physical separation of personnel and records, the protection of client privacy and confidentiality interests through the separation of office and administrative systems and procedures, and disclosure by the lawyers of their employment relationship with the insurer,” the report said. Under the rule proposal, the staff attorney firm would have to be separate from other insurance company personnel as the rules require for an independent firm renting space.• The commission could not find a single correct answer on whether expert witnesses hired by insurance companies should be able to say in court they were paid by the captive law firm. “The commission does conclude that the answer is not necessarily determined by the status of the lawyer (employed or independently retained), but by the ethics rules and substantive law as applied to specific factual circumstances,” the commission report said.• Absent a disqualifying conflict of interest, staff counsel can represent both the company and the policyholder so long as all rules concerning multiple client representation are followed. A majority of the commission favored amending Rule 4-1.7 to clarify the lawyer’s duty of disclosure to the dual clients, while a minority said Florida law is sufficiently clear on that matter.• The commission said it was impractical to set a single standard for when staff attorneys’ independent judgments were affected by oversight by insurance companies, raising unlicensed practice of law issues. “No one has come up with a bright-line test and we do not have one,” McMahon said. “What we concluded was attempting to evaluate these matters in the context of the unauthorized practice of law is not practical, it does not get you anywhere, and you end up going in circles.” The best policy, he said, is to provide training and CLE courses for insurance counsel, both on staff and outside, on Bar ethical rules.• Bar conflict of interest rules apply to staff counsel the same way they do to all attorneys. And on sharing information with nonlawyer insurance company employees, the commission said Rule 4-1.6 governs, just as it does for outside counsel hired by an insurance company.Board member Richard Gilbert said the commission’s findings were too broad and could allow the multidisciplinary practices that the board has opposed. The findings would “allow any business to employ lawyers to provide services to customers, and everything we did to protect the core values of our profession [in MDP debates] would be for naught,” he said.If insurance staff counsel represent a unique situation, “that needs to be articulated and set out in your report so other entities who want to set up in-house law firms see this not as an open door,” Gilbert said.“It sounds like MDP; we’ve got Allstate owning a law firm,” board member Robert Rush said. “Why can’t Kmart do it, why not a benefit of Sam’s Club? It is a conflict of interest in allowing nonlegal entities to own law firms, and we are endorsing it.”President-elect Designate Miles McGrane, who defends insurance companies in his private practice, said there is a difference. “Why can’t Kmart do it? Kmart doesn’t have a dog in the fight. They are not a party at interest,” he said, noting that the retail chain isn’t in the business of providing insurance and can’t provide legal services under existing laws and rules.McGrane also said the Bar cannot treat insurance staff counsel as second- class lawyers, or have rules any different for independent counsel hired by insurance companies.Young Lawyers Division President-elect Juliet Roulhac said she used to work as an insurance company staff counsel and rarely had any problems following Bar rules and ethics. The couple times an issue arose, she said, the company instantly backed down in recognition of attorneys’ ethical duties and obligations.“They are there to advise clients, but they yield to the decisions of the clients,” board member David Welch said of staff counsel. “We can’t treat them as a different class lawyer from the rest, and we owe it to them to give them the type of guidance that this report gives.”The board approved the report on a voice vote.The commission was formed last year after Dade County Circuit Judge Paul Siegel banned insurance staff counsel in his courtroom from signing documents as though they belonged to a traditional law firm. He also ruled that independent medical experts would have to say they were paid by the insurance company, not the captive law firm with which the staff counsel said they were affiliated.The commission’s work follows up on an early study panel, which recommended that when an insurance company uses staff counsel or hires outside counsel to defend a sued policyholder, that policyholder be given a bill of rights. A rule incorporating that is pending at the Supreme Court.The court also heard oral arguments on a challenge to Judge Siegel’s rulings the week before the board met. (See story by clicking here. ) April 1, 2002 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

NBA Trade Rumours: Kevin Love on verge of leaving Cleveland Cavaliers for Boston Celtics

first_imgLast Updated: 11th December, 2019 08:35 IST NBA Trade Rumours: Kevin Love On Verge Of Leaving Cleveland Cavaliers For Boston Celtics Wojnarowski shocked fans by stating that the team is ready to trade their veteran power forward Kevin Love. Now there are reports that the Celtics may pick Love LIVE TV Also Read l Barrett was warned about life in the NBA and Knicks deliverBoston Celtics may send Gordon Hayward for Kevin Love and Cedi OsmanAccording to many Cedi Osman of Cleveland Cavaliers, Love will be a great replacement for Gordon Hayward as the two play in the same position. Taking way lesser pay than Gordon Hayward, Kevin Love can help the Boston Celtics dominate the boards after every single game. Gordon Hayward is scheduled to make his long-awaited comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers and everyone’s attention will be on the 29-year-old. Written By FOLLOW US First Published: 11th December, 2019 08:35 IST For his work in the community.For his work in mental health awareness.Congratulations to @kevinlove, the @nbacares Community Assist Award winner for October 2019! 👏— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 14, 2019 “The last two days have been really productive…seeing a lot of good things as far as what the analytics show us, what the film tells us. We’ve just got to keep moving forward.”- @kevinlove on our progression:— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 2, 2019center_img Adil Khan WATCH US LIVE SUBSCRIBE TO US COMMENT Also Read l Mike D’Antoni: Houston Rockets coach could be sacked if team fails to win NBA FinalsBoston Celtics may trade Gordon Hayward and a lottery pick from Memphis for Kevin Love and Darius Garland of Cleveland CavaliersWith the incredible skills and experience of Kevin Love, Brad Stevens can get an excellent guard in Gordon Hayward who can most definitely lead the second unit of Boston Celtics. If Cleveland Cavaliers agree to the deal, then they will be getting a chance to get a lottery pick in this upcoming draft. The picks may include players like Cole Anthony, LaMelo Ball, or even RJ Hampton.Also Read l NBA Trade Rumours: NY Knicks to snap up Brandon Ingram in 2020? ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday shocked Cleveland Cavaliers fans by stating that the team is ready to trade their veteran power forward Kevin Love. Wojnarowski revealed that the 2016 NBA champions are ready to entertain offers to trade Love. Wojnarowski also revealed that the All-Star power forward will be in high demand during the trade period. Several teams like Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets may make offers to get Kevin Love on their side. But Boston Celtics have more than enough reason to welcome Kevin Love on their side.Also Read l Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and James Harden have changed NBA: Heat coach Erik Spoelstralast_img read more