A Day in the Life Series, brought to you by FuturePLUS, dives into different roles in the Professional Liability industry to give readers an idea of what a typical day for the role looks like.
In this edition of A Day In The Life, we look to uncover details about the daily responsibilities of Senior Counsel. Lori O’Brien from Munich Re has generously provided us with insight to enlighten our audience with her experience. In this edition we will discuss Lori’s background, the skills that ensure success as a senior counsel and the biggest misconception about this position.
Senior Counsel is a broad title that can encompass many variations on similar roles. But typically responsibilities can include things like providing legal advice, assistance, support and counsel to various internal or external clients; performing compliance reviews or audits and various other tasks.
What is your current position? How long have you been in it? How did you find it?
I am Senior Counsel supporting InsurTechs and digital distributors. I have been in this role just over a year. While performing market research, I happened upon the digital space, which brought me to the opportunity.
Please give a description of your current position, something that explains your role in the insurance marketplace and how you interact with others:
I support leadership and development providing comprehensive, go-to market products in the small and micro commercial space. My role affords me the opportunity partner with professionals at all levels of insurance operations to innovate and digitize insurance along the entire value chain.
What positions have you held to date? Why did you get into the insurance industry?
I started as a Paralegal working days while attending law school at night. As my education goals were met, career goals followed, my first role was a Law Clerk, then was promoted to expanded roles of responsibility to my current role as Senior Counsel for one of the largest reinsurers in the industry.
Initially, I had been in the annuity and life insurance sector because I enjoyed in-house corporate endeavors, and was introduced to property & casualty accidently, while working as part of a team that performed compliance and audit reviews.
What do you love most about your position?
The diversity and opportunities for learning. I have had the pleasure to work with so many industry leaders at my current and previous employers. Insurance is truly an industry that enables and promotes people to stay current with career and professional goals and values education and lifetime learning.
What is one misconception about your position?
That my job is to say “NO”. It’s quite the opposite, my role is to facilitate the business in a legal/compliant manner. Attorneys are the ultimate service provider (next to IT of course), we are here to get it done with our business partners, not stop them from achieving strategic initiatives.
What skills make someone successful in your position? What skills are essential and what are nice-to-have?
Reading and re-reading are the keys to success as an attorney; I can’t stress enough the value of taking a second and even a third look, because the smallest words and punctuation (think Oxford commas and semi-colons) can make the most impact, which is not always favorable.
I would say that time management is an essential skill, use your calendar to your advantage has always been the advice given to me by coaches and mentors.
For, “nice-to-have” skills, I would say that knowing your way around a spreadsheet has been very helpful; since insurance so transactional, Excel skills makes life easier when trying to understand the product and how it works, something I value more and more working in reinsurance.
What does your morning routine consist of?
Reviewing my emails and making a conscious decision to archive or delete ones that have been completed.
How do you achieve work life balance?
Exercise and trying to eat right. I enjoy hiking in my spare time and recently adopted two dogs.
How do you approach mundane or administrative tasks?
Head on, utilizing spare time like an hour on Saturday or Sunday morning makes a difference on Monday morning.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn another language, business is global.
What is one of your goals you are working towards and have not yet accomplished?
Finishing my CPCU MRe, at end of a day, my brain is a bit fried from reading so much, that it is hard to pick up reading materials and think about being tested on them.
What can the insurance industry do to attract and retain talent?
Continue to invest in people, provide flexibility and autonomy.