A day in the life of most insurance defense attorneys is not glamorous. These bulldogs of the litigation world try the majority of civil cases but remain relatively unknown and unappreciated by the general populace. A day in the life of an insurance defense attorney is filled with telephone calls, depositions, endless paperwork and equally endless billing entries.
Automobile insurance policies provide free counsel to insureds who are sued because of automobile accidents. Since plaintiffs rarely file suit against uninsured, judgment-proof individuals, defendants in personal injury lawsuits are generally represented by insurance defense attorneys. I have worked as an insurance defense attorney for seven years, defending nearly a thousand different individuals over the course of my career.
A day in the life of an insurance defense attorney may very well start in court. Most lawsuits require at least two hearings at some point in the proceedings. Most hearings involve summary judgment motions, discovery disputes or evidentiary issues for trial. However, I rarely have more than two or three of these hearings per week. Most of a day in the life of an insurance defense attorney takes place in the office, not the courthouse.
Most days I will get about a dozen phone calls and other dozen e-mails from insurance adjusters, clients, and plaintiff’s attorneys. On mornings not requiring a court appearance, I get to work around 8:30 a.m. and start answering letters, voice mails and e-mails. I usually leave by 5:30 p.m. so I can get home in time for dinner.
I spent a lot of time answering discovery requests, meeting with clients to determine how to answer written questions from opposing counsel. I also spend a lot of time reviewing plaintiff’s medical records to prepare for depositions, hearings, and mediations. On a typical day, I probably spend an hour just reviewing records.
Most days include either a deposition or a meeting. I enjoy depositions because I am allowed to ask the deponent pretty much any semi-relevant question. One of the highlights in the day in the life of an insurance defense attorney occurs when he catches the plaintiff in a blatant lie under oath. It happens more often than you might guess.
Although our ranks try more cases than any other type of trial attorney, cases that actually go to trial are still relatively few and far between. A typical day in the life of an insurance defense attorney will not involve going to trial. It may involve preparing for a trial, or trying to settle a case set for trial, but it will probably not involve actually trying a case. Even though our three-attorney office schedules over forty trials per year, less than a third of those get in front of a jury.
A day in the life of an insurance defense attorney is not glamorous. We do not handle many high profile cases, but we grind out a lot of work. If you choose to join our ranks, be prepared for a lot of paperwork and a lot of conflict. Everything you do and say will be analyzed by opposing counsel looking for some tactical advantage. You will have to account for your entire day in six-minute increments, constantly worrying whether you are billing enough to earn your keep. You will have to decide whether some trial experience and some occasional excitement are enough to outweigh the mundane and tedious aspects of the job.