July 02, 2020
NAME: Jason R. Fathallah
NEW JOB TITLE: Milwaukee-based partner, Husch Blackwell LLP
PREVIOUS POSITION: Milwaukee-based partner and section co-chair, von Briesen & Roper SC
INDUSTRY OUTLOOK: The outlook is strong on a macro level because the demand for insurance will remain high. On a micro level, technology will continue to disrupt the industry, both in terms of the key players in the market and the risks they insure. Well-capitalized startups are leveraging technology and low overhead to compete with established companies. One critique of this business model is that it compromises personal customer service. The marketplace will ultimately determine the right balance between cheaper premiums and personal customer service, but there is no doubt that newer companies are making their presence felt, particularly in personal lines. In terms of insurable risks, technology has reshaped our lives, introducing new risks along the way. We’ve already seen it with the massive data breach cases. Soon, our cars will drive themselves, drones will deliver packages and facial recognition will replace passwords — and that’s the near future.
GOALS FOR NEW POSITION: I want to continue evolving my practice by providing clients with something more than letter-of-the-law advice. I partner with many of my clients to help grow their business, and the team I’m joining at Husch Blackwell is aligned with that approach. We have assembled a really exciting blend of litigation, regulatory, legal operations and project management professionals that is driving bottom-line results for clients.
CHALLENGES FACING THE INDUSTRY: COVID-19 business interruption litigation presents an immediate challenge to a large segment of the industry. Policyholders across the country have begun filing individual claims and class actions, and some have requested multidistrict litigation. Most insurers contend these claims are not covered, and some experts have argued that pandemic losses are inherently uninsurable because insurance is not designed to respond to global events with simultaneous impact on policyholders. However it unfolds, the impact will be significant. Another challenge relates to risks associated with rising temperatures. I am not a global warming or natural disasters expert, but one cannot disregard the growing incidence of wildfires, floods and other natural disaster events.
FIRST EXPERIENCE IN THE INDUSTRY JOB MARKET: My first experience occurred as a new lawyer defending large claims as insurance defense counsel. I have since expanded my practice to represent insurers in many other facets of dispute resolution, including complex insurance coverage, claims management consulting, class actions and commercial litigation.
ADVICE: It’s a complex industry that offers many career paths. Work hard and take your time to learn as much about the industry as you can. You will eventually find a path that matches your interests and skillset. I would also advise a newcomer to appreciate the smart, genuine, cerebral professionals you’ll meet along the way. Insurance is not an industry where you get ahead by faking it.
OUTSIDE THE INDUSTRY, A DREAM JOB: General manager of an NFL franchise. I had an offer to become an NFL agent out of law school, but saw firsthand it’s a tough lifestyle — brutal travel schedule and dealing with the players’ friends and family could be challenging.
COLLEGE MAJOR: I double majored at the University of Michigan in sociology (with an emphasis in race, gender and ethnicity) and psychology.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: I look forward to leveraging the depth and breadth of Husch Blackwell’s national platform, particularly in its insurance practice. The firm has grown that practice substantially in the past few years and has developed a unique and holistic approach to the industry, partnering with client legal departments and business units in novel ways to achieve lower legal spends and better outcomes.
FAVORITE MEAL: Bone-in ribeye (medium rare), Caesar salad, single malt.
BOOK: “Miracle in the Andes,” by Nando Parrado, and “Into Thin Air,” by John Krakauer. Two motivating stories about survival and perseverance under unimaginable circumstances.
HOBBIES: Golfing, traveling, reading and cooking. I’m excited to have recently joined the food and wine society Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
TV SHOW: “Better Call Saul” and “Breaking Bad”
ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Spending time with my wife and three kids. If the weather cooperates, we’re at the pool, golf course or taking a hike. And, if it’s fall, college football is on.