I was at an open day for Melbourne Uni with my son recently and we attended the introductory lectures on law. I have to say I was pretty stunned with the new Melbourne Uni law faculty. It is a far cry (and a fair walk) from where I studied law in the 80’s.
During the introductory session we learned a lot about the new post graduate model that Melbourne Uni has implemented and I have to say that it makes some sense to me. There is no doubt that three years of undergraduate study will equip students to better handle the sometimes complex legal subjects; I know it was not until the 4th and 5th years of my Uni days that l started getting the hang of things. There is no doubt this model positions the Melbourne Uni law faculty to compete internationally – it is already rated number 9 in the world.
My main take away from the day was the one slide that presented the different career possibilities that arise from the study of law. I did not expect to see claims management as a promoted career path but there it was… as one of several career paths you can choose once you have finished law.
I have to admit to being quite chuffed… when I joined Chubb in a claim management career path after 5 years at a law firm it was a pretty unusual step (although that was last century!). These days it is becoming increasingly more common. Many insurers and claim management companies like Proclaim are developing claims staff that comes from legal backgrounds, who fit well in the liability and professional liability claims areas. At Proclaim from our 50 staff around half are legally qualified and many have practiced at law firms. We do our best to provide the right environment and the opportunities through training and experience to develop their skills in the industry.
So why would a law grad want to stop lawyering and become a Claim person? What we find is that claims offers law grads an opportunity to use their legal skills in a more commercial context. They also tend to have authority to make decisions rather than advising a client on what decision to make. They also get more responsibility and more client contact. There are also more corporate careers paths with technical, management and business development opportunities. Plus there tends to be a better work life balance in a claims environment, where you are not a slave to a timesheet, hours are more reasonable and weekends are for relaxing!
It is great that in 20 years the insurance industry has moved to a position where the technical skills of lawyers are valued within the claims arena. Even more gratifying is seeing law schools promoting claims management as a legitimate career path for a lawyer. It is up to us within the industry to develop and promote our staff so these talented and dedicated individuals stay within our ranks and are the next wave of insurance professionals who are at the top of the profession. This can only help in the continued push to elevate claims to the important position it deserves in the industry – that is, not back office!