Podcast #79: Nicolle Schippers on Legal Insurance and Access to Justice

On this edition of the Lawyerist podcast, Sam talks to Nicolle Schippers about what legal insurance is and how it can help to bridge the access to justice gap.

Would You Buy an Insurance Policy That Only Pays if You Lose a Case?

Last month, two Florida attorneys launched an insurance company that insures you against losing a case. Sam explained that the idea behind it is that if you are a plaintiff’s lawyer, you purchase a policy on your case, and if you lose the case, the insurance company pays you $100,000. If you win, you pay 7%.

Aaron pointed out that this could certainly lead to some ethics issues where a lawyer could decide to lose and the lawyer would benefit while the client gets nothing. Sam noted, however, that a lawyer could theoretically make an arrangement with a client: turn down the paltry $10,000 settlement offered and allow the lawyer to lose the case, at which point the lawyer would pay the client more money than they would have received in the settlement.

As the cases aren’t vetted, Aaron noted that the big questions here are about the details of coverage. Presumably there is some sort of underwriting, and perhaps there is some sort of contract detailing who can actually receive a payout. Regardless, it is an interesting new option for personal injury attorneys.

Legal Insurance and Bridging the Access to Justice Gap, with Nicolle Schippers

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Nicolle is the Associate General Counsel and Legal Industry Advocate at ARAG, a legal insurance company, where she has served as counsel for over eight years. In her role at ARAG, in addition to her legal duties, Nicolle manages the Regulatory Compliance and Provider Relations teams and consults on the future of the legal insurance industry. Prior to ARAG, Nicolle worked as a corporate consultant for Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company and also served five years in the Air Force as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) during which time she held the roles of criminal prosecutor, family law attorney, claims and tax attorney, and defense counsel.

You can follow Nicolle on LinkedIn.

Thanks to Xero and Abacus for sponsoring this episode!

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  1. Avatar Andrew Kimble says:

    As an employment lawyer, I have concerns about this arrangement. Is an employee deterred from raising an employment issue they might have because their lawyer is paid by the employer? I would think the assigned lawyer is conflicted. Also, would an employee assume this was their only option for legal services, or go with them (against their interest) because it is already paid for? Or worse, would the mere presence of this insurance mislead an employee to believe, wrongly, that these services could not be obtained on a contingency fee basis with nothing out of pocket?

    • Avatar ARAG says:

      Thank you for your comment. Although there are different types of legal plans, our answer is on behalf of ARAG and its legal insurance coverages. Our group
      legal insurance plan is a voluntary benefit offered by employers, just like
      medical, dental, etc. to their employees. Most of our group plans are
      employee paid, not employer paid. Regardless of who pays, employment
      matters are not covered as they are specifically excluded to prevent any type
      of conflict you suggest. Further, as an insurance product, our legal
      plans have been reviewed and approved by the states departments of insurance to ensure they are in compliance with all regulatory requirements, including those
      requirements to ensure the insurance plan and its coverages are understandable
      by the policy holder so there are not misrepresentations or confusion regarding
      what is or is not covered. Again, we thank you for your comment and hope this
      clears up your questions.

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