Job Title: Counsel
Type of Company: I work for an insurance company that sells group insurance and annuities.
Education: BA, Biology & Sociology, Antioch College MA, Counseling Psychology, Antioch College (New England) JD, Western New England School of Law
Previous Experience: I worked as a therapist, social worker, mediator for ten years before deciding to go to law school.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to provide legal advice to our group insurance division. I have many responsibilities, but mainly I write, review and negotiate contracts, mostly for our dental business. A typical contract can be with a preferred provider organization, to allow access to dental providers at discounted rates for dental insurance customers. On a typical day, I answer many questions about new laws, provide advice regarding new products that my business might want to sell, answer claim questions, and write and negotiate contracts. I do a fair amount of reading on new legislation and I advise my business on how to implement the new laws.
Once at a conference of insurance attorneys, there was a speaker from a tobacco company and he said he thought that he was asked to speak because they couldn't think of anyone with a worse reputation than an insurance attorney, except a tobacco attorney. We all laughed, but in actuality I do a lot of good working for an insurance company. I have the ability to set the tone to help consumers, to explain and ensure compliance with laws, and to ensure that claims are paid correctly. I also get to go home at the end of the day feeling challenged and early enough to eat dinner with my family.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is negotiating contracts. There are many aspects to building a contract and that is what I like best, figuring out how to come to an agreement about an issue and then being creative enough to craft the language to go with the agreement. I find that negotiating is win-win because both parties want something out of the deal.
This is in opposition to the worst part of my job which is collection litigation. Litigation is lose-lose. There are never good feelings when negotiating with the other party and, unlike writing a contract, you are not building something good for everyone to use but tearing something apart.
Job Tips: Don't become an attorney if you don't like to write. There are many types of attorneys; don't think you have to be in court. I have been to court twice and both times were to represent someone pro bono. Observe, intern, try it out before you go to law school. Don't think you have to be number 1 or go to the number 1 school. Don't be scared to say no!
Additional Thoughts: The most important aspect that I bring to my job is being a good listener. A good listener will always win over the deal.
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