Nathan Chaney taught a CLE hosted by the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association last Friday. The theme of the day of CLE was insurance coverage issues, and Nathan taught about his recent appeal in which he disqualified a lawyer employed by an insurance company.
The seminar followed the format of the one Nathan gave last summer to the Arkanas Bar Association. However, this seminar focused more on the fallout surrounding the disqualification of the Farmers Insurance Company lawyer (you can download the presentation here). Essentially, Farmers will have to fulfill its bargain with its policyholders by hiring independent lawyers to represent them. Furthermore, Farmers may have defaulted its policyholders on many cases in which its employee-attorneys answered lawsuits. Fortunately, Farmers alone will be the responsibility of taking this calculated risk, not the policyholders.
One question at the CLE was, “why do you care what the insurance companies do? After all, wouldn’t it be better for an plaintiff’s lawyer to have a 9-to-5 in-house lawyer on the other side, rather than a skilled lawyer in a big firm?” My answer to that question was this: all people who have a contractual right to a lawyer deserve skilled representation given with undivided loyalty. If I get sued, I want the best lawyer my insurance company can find to represent me — don’t we all feel that way?
We, as lawyers, take an oath to uphold the justice system. And at the heart of our justice system are lawyers who exercise independent, professional judgment. Here at the Chaney Law Firm, we take our oath seriously, even when it’s inconvenient. That’s why we objected to Farmers appointing its own lawyer, and that’s why I gave a CLE on the topic last week.