31st July 2023 – Author: Jack Willard
International law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP has bolstered its top-tier insurance and reinsurance practice with the addition of partner Michele Jacobson, senior counsel Robert Lewin, and counsels Beth Clark, Michele (Shelli) Pahmer, and Lisa Pach.
The team joins Steptoe’s New York and Chicago offices.
Across the past two years, Steptoe’s insurance & reinsurance practice has handled a number of major matters including serving as The Hartford’s and W.R. Berkley’s national coordinating counsel for COVID-19 business interruption lawsuits, and representing one of three insurers in an insurance recovery litigation brought by billionaire Ronald O. Perelman for five paintings.
According to Steptoe, Jacobson’s practice concentrates on complex insurance and reinsurance matters, where she will use her deep knowledge of the industry to counsel a diverse variety of companies in litigating and preventing disputes.
Previously she has represented clients in high-stakes reinsurance and insurance disputes, both in court and in arbitration proceedings nationwide, relating to diverse areas such as life, asbestos and environmental, business interruption, surety and financial guarantee, workers compensation, broker negligence and MGA disputes.
Elsewhere, Lewin represents insurers and reinsurers in complex, high-profile disputes. Throughout his career, he has handled litigations, arbitrations and appeals involving practically all insurance products, including life, annuities, property and casualty, workers compensation, environmental, pollution liability, financial guarantee and surety bonds.
He has also worked with cedents, reinsurers, retrocessionaires, pool members, intermediaries and liquidators in hundreds of disputes. He also has been appointed by arbitrators as special master to oversee discovery disputes.
Both Jacobson and Lewin have served as lead counsel with respect to industry-significant reinsurance claims such as COVID-19 business interruption and workers compensation claims; California wildfires disputes; 9/11 (World Trade Center); life reinsurance yearly renewable term rate increase disputes; financial crisis reinsurance disputes; Kiwanis Club molestation claims; Hurricane Katrina; and Enron.
In addition, Clark’s practice focuses on complex reinsurance and insurance litigation and arbitration. She has represented cedents, reinsurers, retrocessionaires, intermediaries and liquidators in a wide variety of matters in federal and state court and before arbitration panels. These disputes have involved areas such as the bad faith exception to the late notice/prejudice rule, allocation of asbestos and environmental pollution losses; misrepresentations in connection with the placement of reinsurance and retrocessional agreements, and the protection afforded under reinsurance and retrocessional agreements.
Meanwhile, Pahmer practices in a wide range of litigation areas, including insurance, reinsurance, securities fraud, employment discrimination, civil RICO, bankruptcy and other general commercial litigations.
She has also previously represented defendants, or groups of defendants, in class and individual actions and has tried jury and non-jury cases in federal and state court.
And lastly, Pach’s practice includes all lines of insurance including first-party and third-party coverage and bad-faith claim handling issues. Across her career,, she has represented clients on construction defect, environmental contamination, mass tort, abuse, professional lines, health care, long-term care, standard lines, advertising and personal injury, uninsured motorist and first-party property matters.
Steptoe Chair Gwen Renigar, commented: “Steptoe has long had one of the most prominent insurance coverage practices in the nation. Michele and Bob’s team has an equally strong practice and reputation, especially in reinsurance, and combining forces creates formidable litigation teams. I am thrilled that they’ve decided to join our firm.”
Michele added: “Steptoe is widely recognized as having one of the country’s top-tier insurer-side litigation practices and that was a significant draw to me and my colleagues when considering where to go next in developing our practices. With its significant depth and leading presence, the Steptoe team has achieved extraordinary results for insurers and we look forward to drawing on all the resources and insights the firm has to offer.”
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