If you are asking how to get on an insurance defense panel, one of the common first steps after you have made your initial introduction is to respond to a Request for Information (RFI) or a Request for Proposal (RFP). This article identifies some of the leading questions you can expect in a panel counsel application.
Practice Areas. Carriers want to know the practice areas offered by your firm and may provide a list of corresponding insurance lines that you can reference. The panel counsel application likely will go beyond simply asking about the practice areas to also asking you to break down billable hours and perhaps even revenue by practice area. This may or may not be broken down to the individual attorney level as well.
Trial Experience. While most cases settle, litigation managers at insurance carriers want to know if your attorneys can handle the demands of a trial when necessary. You could be asked for hours spent in trial by attorney for the past several years.
Hourly Rates. You will definitely be asked to identify your billable hourly rate for partners, associates, and paralegals. It is best if you have a clear understanding of typical insurance defense rates for your geographic market and by practice area, so that you can provide an accurate quote. You don’t want to suggest rates that are too high, but you also don’t want to lowball your firm. Keep in mind that the rate you agree to accept may be in place for several years, since it is hard to raise rates in the insurance defense market.
Plaintiff Personal Injury Work. Law firms that handle plaintiff personal injury work like auto accidents or slip and fall premises liability cases may find it particularly challenging to get on an insurance defense panel, or to keep the insurance carriers that they may already have. Most carriers understand if a few plaintiff cases are handled periodically for family and friends if there is no conflict. However, plaintiff personal injury work can complicate business development efforts in the insurance defense market. Representing plaintiffs in commercial litigation is generally viewed as less of a conflict, in part because these are often not covered by insurance.
References. Maintain good relations with two to three claims or risk managers who are willing to serve as a reference for your law firm. Be sure to ask them in advance for their approval.
Diversity. Many insurance companies now have DE&I goals, and some panel managers are even evaluated and bonused based on their ability to attract diverse law firms. See our separate article on DE&I panel counsel goals below.
Cybersecurity. Be prepared to explain all the steps your law firm is taking to maintain the confidentiality of client data. If the law firm has a cyber insurance policy, that is even better.
Ethics and Professional Liability. Prospective clients want to know if any of the attorneys on your team have been subject to disciplinary actions by a Bar association or involved in a malpractice complaint.
Your Unique Selling Proposition. Why should the insurance company work with your law firm? This can be a challenging question to answer. You will want to give this some thought in advance. Your firm can distinguish itself by featuring credentials, trial experience, metrics, diversity, and related factors. The key here is to make a compelling argument that sets your law firm apart from the competition.
Be Prepared for Your Panel Counsel Application
Before you even get to the point of filling out a panel counsel application, you need to get the attention of the litigation panel manager. Once you are in conversation with the panel manager, you are on the path to being invited to apply. This is an on-going process, which means you always want to be marketing your insurance defense law firm. LinkedIn social media marketing is one easy way to stay visible and demonstrate your law firm’s leadership capabilities. Newsletter marketing to current clients and keeping your website current are also recommended marketing techniques.
Insurance Defense Marketing Consultant for Law Firms
If your insurance defense law firm is asking how you can improve your marketing communications and business development efforts, you are invited to call Margaret Grisdela at 561-266-1030. We have helped almost 250 insurance defense law firms in 43 states pursue new client opportunities.
Legal Expert Connections, Inc. offers three key benefits to insurance defense law firms nationwide:
- We are the leading U.S. legal marketing agency specializing in the insurance defense market. We make it our business to identify who you need to contact at an insurance company, corporation or municipality to be considered as a panel counsel member. We accelerate your business development process by helping you focus on introducing your law firm to new prospective clients.
- You get a structured business development process. We guide your law firm through a proven three-step campaign that brings discipline, focus, and productivity to your marketing efforts.
- Increase revenue with professional, Bar-compliant legal marketing campaigns. We do the research to identify insurance panel managers, so you can focus your time on the business development process.