Hermes Law

News From the Office

Collaborative Law Strategies

Although collaborative law has traditionally only been utilized in the family law context, there are opportunities to adapt the collaborative law framework for an insurance defense practice. In the insurance defense context, collaborative law can be utilized as a means of reducing the cost of litigation. Regular reporting to the insured and carrier that includes analysis of whether collaborative law is an option is a method of demonstrating to the carrier the firm’s ability to achieve resolutions creatively and in a way that furthers objectives of all involved.

According to the 2015 Claims & Litigation Management Alliance Litigation Management Study General Report, risk industry executives indicated that they wished their panel firms did a better job of demonstrating creativity, focusing more on resolution and utilizing non-discovery and nontraditional methods. Simply put, carriers are looking for defense firms to ‘think outside the box’ in achieving resolutions. This is where collaborative process comes into play. The goal of this article is to share a few strategies for adapting the collaborative law framework for an insurance defense practice. The process described is a robust version that can be modified based on the particular case.

Educate the insured and the carrier regarding the collaborative process

Make sure that the insured and the carrier agree to expectations of conduct and sign the participation agreement. After the insured and the carrier agree to the process, defense counsel should contact the counsel for the other party and gauge the other party’s receptiveness. Assuming that the other party agrees to engage in the collaborative process, ask the insured and carrier to identify the goals that they would like to accomplish during the collaborative law process and their reasons for identifying each goal. Also, ask the insured and the carrier to identify what they believe are the goals of the other party. Finally, ask the insured and carrier to identify their greatest concerns regarding the lawsuit/matter. These steps ensure that you as the attorney are fully cognizant of your client’s position. These steps also help the client begin to think about the case from the perspective of the other party.

Schedule the first joint meeting

This meeting is an opportunity for both parties to share their respective goals for the process and to share any pressing needs. There should also be a discussion regarding the sharing of leadership amongst the professionals. It is best for the parties to refrain from actual negotiations at this meeting.

Start information gathering

First, decide what information is needed and assign information gatherer(s). Then review all information shared by the other party. After gathering all the necessary information, identify the hot button issues based on the investigation. Start brainstorming options and discuss probable outcomes of each option.

Negotiate the agreement

Another joint session should be scheduled to allow the parties to discuss the various options they have identified. Narrow down the options to those that meet the most important goals of both parties.

Begin preparation of the legal documents

Exchange drafts with the other party’s counsel, and schedule a joint session to present the document to both parties for their review and comments. Jointly determine whether all closing documents have been prepared and finalized. The meeting concludes after all closing documents have been signed.

The collaborative process described in this article can be modified based on the particular case and the parties involved. The collaborative process can also be used to resolve disputes that arise within the case as opposed to the case as a whole. In the insurance defense practice, collaborative process is an opportunity to demonstrate to carriers that you, as defense panel counsel, have a vested interest in partnering with the carrier to reach a desired outcome and that you have the ability to formulate creative solutions to complex legal issues. Collaborative process is generally under-utilized and therefore, carriers are unlikely to request it. However, the typical benefits of collaborative process, namely, reduction in defense costs and more timely resolution, are benefits that resonate with all carriers. In addition, the fact that the process is designed to promote civility among litigants is a benefit to all parties involved.

Dallas Design Awards

To break down barriers between our lawyers and clients we designed a dynamic work environment to encourage an open flow of ideas and information. In keeping with the historic Dallas West End and The Oilwell Supply building where the law firm is located, we kept the concrete floors, exposed brick walls and ceilings. It is 8,000 square feet of open, flexible communal space where employees are given a wide variety of spaces in which to work individually or in a group.

Dallas Design Awards: Hermes Law named runner-up for Historical, Restoration/Preservation for Commercial Office

We think our office is pretty cool and most definitely the coolest law firm. Attorneys are increasingly mobile and virtual collaboration is a necessity, requiring innovative workplace strategies. To take advantage of the stunning views of downtown Dallas, we designed the 40 unassigned workstations to all have a view. There are standing desks, group desks, phone booths, a hammock and everything in between. Legal work and culture are changing and the interior design of Hermes Law’s office is culturally relevant and keeps them connected to their client’s needs. The space is a work-in-progress to allow for expansion and growth. Daily Ping-Pong matches and Foosball games keep the space lively.

New Team Members: Nathan Shackelford and Ryan Brown

Hermes Law, a diverse team of professionals committed to stellar service and legal representation for clients and cases impacting the insurance and risk industry, recently added to its team of attorneys with the hiring of Nathan Shackelford and Ryan Brown.

Mr. Shackelford earned his earned his Juris Doctor from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. He is a member in good standing with State Bar of Texas, as well as federal courts in Texas, including bankruptcy courts and the 5th Circuit. His practice at Hermes Law will focus on the practice areas of Commercial Litigation, Transportation Law, Premises Liability and Dram Shop.

Mr. Brown earned his Juris Doctor magna cum laude from the Michigan State University College of Law and is a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas. The focus of his practice at Hermes Law will be in the areas of Products Liability and Commercial Litigation. In addition to his work at Hermes Law, he serves on two committees for the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and is a goalie director for the Dallas Stars youth hockey program.

“At Hermes, we talk about moving law forward. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It requires the right people who understand our mission of utilizing technology and a team approach to problem solving that result in excellent client service,” said Dwayne Hermes, founder of Hermes Law. “Nathan and Ryan are two younger attorneys who exemplify what we’re trying to do here and we’re delighted to have them on our team.”

Hermes Law represents commercial clients on insurance-related cases in the areas of Appellate Law, Casualty, Commercial Litigation, Construction Law, Cyber Liability, Environmental Law, Medical Malpractice, Premises Liability, Product Liability, Professional Liability and Transportation Law. To drive its client-centric approach in these areas, Hermes Law employs leading edge technology to automate case administration in a collaborative workspace fosters true collaboration and innovation. The end result is superior legal representation customized to meet and exceed the needs of the client.

Lloyds of London Market

Hermes Law, a diverse team of legal professionals providing legal services to clients in matters pertaining to the insurance and risk industry, recently hired Rebecca Side as its Lloyds of London and London Market Representative.

Rebecca Side named as Hermes Law’s Lloyds of London Market Representative

Based in London, Side will be responsible for developing new business from the Lloyd’s and London markets and will act as the firm’s London representative for U.K.-based Clients.

“Our firm embraces technology perhaps as much or more than any other, especially when it comes to improving case resolution quality. Yet, in many instances, technology is not a substitute for face-to-face. Having a professional of Rebecca’s caliber as our market representative gives the Firm a physical and professional presence in the Lloyd’s and London market that’s absolutely critical to our success,” said Dwayne Hermes, founder of Hermes Law.

Side previously worked for the Global Claims Management Company ‘Crawford and Company’ and the Lloyd’s Managing General Agent ‘Woodbrook’. Her experience covers many aspects of the insurance industry, including TPA management/review, claims handling, underwriting and compliance.

Adds Hermes, “Rebecca is fully conversant with the Lloyd’s Market protocols and procedures and with her extensive market knowledge will be taking Hermes Law to the next level of client commitment not only ensuring alignment of our services with clients’ needs but also compliance with the increasing demands for reporting from the regulatory bodies.”

Hermes Law represents commercial clients on insurance-related cases in the areas of Appellate Law, Casualty, Commercial Litigation, Construction Law, Cyber Liability, Environmental Law, Medical Malpractice, Premises Liability, Product Liability, Professional Liability, Property and Transportation Law.