Become an insurance lawyer – it may not be sexy but it’s a good career

Guest post by Laurence Besemer, CEO of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL)

Besemer: Insurers can sway the behaviour of businesses

As a youth in the 80s, I never had much success with “actually I’m in insurance” as a chat-up line. It evoked the image of a corporate pencil pusher living for their retirement.

Now, as a happily married man, I’m glad I don’t have to find out whether that line is any more effective than it used to be but working life has certainly impressed on me that this stereotyped view of the insurance sector is simply incorrect.

Over the last few years, insurance law has become an increasingly attractive career prospect for a number of reasons.

Firstly, people now recognise more clearly that so much of human activity is underpinned and supported by the insurance.

The business and transport sectors just wouldn’t be able to function with such a level of risk. Until all risk of loss disappears, society requires a system to transfer and spread risk – enter the insurance industry.

Secondly, the four key stakeholders of any organisation (investors, purchasers, employees and regulators) are beginning to appreciate how the threat of climate change can be addressed by the power and influence of the insurance industry.

As investors controlling trillions of pounds through pension pots and personal savings, life insurers can sway the behaviours businesses in need of investment.

Insurers also have indirect control and influence over the operational ‘greenness’ of almost every business that buys insurance – as underwriters of risk, cover can be refused or only partially provided by insurers if a business is falling short in its corporate responsibilities in tackling climate change.

The industry also can use its significant buying power to leverage the corporate behaviour of its suppliers, including law firms.

In light of the increasing pressures and expectations on businesses to be financially successful, alongside making positive social contributions to society, joining an industry that prioritises both is surely an appealing prospect for budding lawyers.

As insurance is simultaneously both an important and varied sector, insurance law offers many avenues for lawyers to hone their skill and develop their career.

It’s a complex and fulfilling area of law, which requires an understanding of contract law, tort law, agency law and regulatory law. Insurance law covers a wide range of subject needed to be understood during the course of a case-handling career and can therefore do wonders for a lawyer’s general knowledge.

It’s indisputable that insurance law can provide a fulfilling and lifelong career path for budding lawyers, yet insurance law is still seen, at least in some circles, as a poor cousin when compared to the draw of corporate and commercial law.

Not only this – some also believe that progression in insurance law is only possible with good connections.

Times have changed and, whilst this may have been the story in the 80s, it is no longer the case. Quite the opposite in fact – those thought to be relying on any ‘old boys’ contacts to work their way up are likely to face real setbacks.

It’s no secret that the culture of the London insurance market in particular has had to come a long way. Top firms in the business and legal sector are keen to hire genuine talent will lots of promise – not those with the connections and elite education.

Many elite employers and universities are looking for candidates who have achieved high academic results relative to their social background, as this is now seen as a far more reflective of the candidate’s potential.

Through the use of algorithms, this method recognises that a student from an underprivileged background will have had to work much harder to achieve top grades in a subject studying in a comprehensive, than a privately educated middle-class student.

On top of the re-examination of how valuable academic performance is, the London Market is taking additional steps to promote a future career in the industry.

For example, the London Market Group launched a talent attraction campaign in 2019 aimed at young people considering their career options – events are held where potential recruits have the opportunity to meet other young professionals (now 130 ambassadors) working in the London Market.

The campaign has a large social media presence, which promotes the lives and stories of those working in the Market, alongside a jobs board showcasing employment opportunities.

In terms of the role which FOIL is playing here, Tomorrow’s FOIL (the Forum of Insurance Lawyers’ division for lawyers beginning their career in insurance) has launched a programme for universities and careers fairs aimed at college students and undergraduates to promote insurance law as an appealing career choice.

In order to maintain our place as a world-leading industry, the insurance/insurance law sectors must do the work to attract and retain top young talent. Much progress has been made, and finally perceptions of the sector are starting to reflect the reality.

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loading animation