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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Pursuing Passions and Dreams By Joining a New Law Firm and Expanding My Practice

With some regrets but also great excitement, I’ve decided to leave Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd as of the end of the year. It’s been a great 10 years at BRS & B. The firm is full of great people and lawyers who’ve been very good to me, and that support continues even now. But, serendipity and other forces are at work, so I’ve decided to start 2010 by becoming a partner at Childress Duffy Goldblatt. Known as CDG, the firm is composed of 20 or so lawyers, with the main office in Chicago and significant offices in Florida. Further expansion is envisioned.

Like BRS & B, my new firm is mainly a litigation boutique, but happily also includes a small but strong transactional practice. CDG, however, will be different for me because the firm includes two long-time friends with some shared dreams, and CDG sues insurers instead of representing them. CDG also is very creative and open to new ideas and approaches. Thus, the partners are involved in litigation-related consultancies and prefer to share risks and rewards with clients and others through contingent fees, joint ventures, and other creative approaches.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell. I’m making this move:

• To pursue dreams in partnership with two great lawyers and friends I’ve known since law school and the first years of practice

• To continue my current commercial, mass tort and legacy liability work, but with materially greater flexibility to handle cases through alternative fee arrangements

• To help expand CDG’s practice representing both corporations and individuals with issues regarding insurance policies, including CGL, D & O, property, business interruption, health and other types of insurance policies

• To help expand the business of a related consulting company known as Risk Assessment & Transfer International, which provides pre-loss creation and archiving of critical evidence and documents, and consults on risk-related issues, including identifying emerging risks, spotting unseen risks inherent in old and new business structures, and negotiating specific policy language to avoid issues

• To help expand CDG’s contingent fee and/or pro bono practice suing insurers and others when insurance policies are illegally rescinded via “post-claim underwriting” or other unfair practices after submission of claims for expensive treatments for cancer or other diseases

• To use my passion for science and law to help expand CDG’s contingent fee and/or pro bono practice suing insurance companies or health care plans for individuals when they are denied medical treatments such as bone marrow transplants

As of January 3, the cell phone number stays the same, but my new office information will be:

Kirk T. Hartley Childress Duffy Goldblatt 515 N. State Street – Suite 2200 Chicago, IL 60654 (Direct) 312-494-0206 (Fax) 312-494-0202 (Cell) 312-802-4471

For those who may be interested, the following text further explains the reasons for my move to CDG, and explains more about its practices and our plans.

Creativity and Flexibility: The opportunity to join CDG is irresistible because it offers the opportunity to pursue dreams in partnership with two long-time friends, TJ Loucks and Mike Childress. TJ and I became friends in law school and were roommates for several years. TJ introduced me to Mike, and various adventures were shared during our younger days. Both TJ and Mike are great people and lawyers. Perhaps better yet, both like to dream, and are highly creative and flexible. Those characteristics are embedded in the firm’s DNA due to Mike founding the firm, and TJ being the Managing Partner.

CDG’s litigation focus of course meshes well with my twenty-five years in commercial, mass tort and legacy liability litigation. For commercial litigation, CDG’s flexibility is great because its lawyers have tried a wide range of commercial cases, and CDG offers greater flexibility to share risks through contingent fee and other alternative fee arrangements.

Insurance and Corporate Legacy Liability Issues: During the 25 years I’ve spent representing manufacturing conglomerates and individual corporations, a dominant factor always has been obtaining insurance monies or other sources of payment for defense and indemnity expenses for underlying “long tail torts.” I’ve also spent much time in negotiations, arbitrations and trials to resolve myriad “shared insurance” issues that arise from conglomerates, environmental claims and other long-tail tort claims. CDG offers significant new opportunities to more effectively pursue insurance-related issues for clients because CDG’s lawyers already are involved in a wide range of insurance coverage litigation against insurers, including obtaining coverage under CGL, D&O, property, business interruption, and other insurance policies. The firm’s lawyers also have great depth in pursuing bad faith claims. The expectation is that I will add value to CDG with my experience in and knowledge of “shared insurance” issues, coverage in place agreements, and issues regarding whether underlying defense counsel are allowed to exercise their independent judgment in defending underlying cases. We also expect to build on our mutual experiences with insurance insolvencies, run-offs, and solvent and insolvent schemes of arrangement.

We also expect to further build CDG’s significant national presence bringing claims for property owners that suffer heavy losses but are unable to obtain fair compensation through the insurance adjustment process. CDG’s clients are nationwide, and include Fortune 500 companies, commercial and residential property owners of buildings (e.g. condominiums, hotels) damaged by weather, as well as processing facilities and factories damaged by explosions, fires or other problems that interrupt business operations. CDG takes on these and other claims on a contingent fee or hourly fee basis. Named partner Mike Duffy loves to try cases anywhere, anytime, and I’m looking forward to teaming with Mike and the rest of the trial lawyers.

Risk Management and Consulting: CDG’s lawyers are well ahead of the curve in understanding the importance of risk management, and providing consulting services aimed at spotting and avoiding problems, as well as maximizing insurance recoveries when losses do occur. The consulting business, Risk Assessment & Transfer International, includes both non-lawyers and lawyers who advise on a wide range of risk management issues. For example, Risk’s consultants help identify risks that ordinarily might be missed, and help negotiate better language for some aspects of some insurance policies. Risk’s consultants also work with clients on pre-litigation record-creation and record-keeping needed in order to be prepared for disasters by already having built a file of trial-ready evidence. “Risk” also undertakes joint venture risk management programs with significant engineering and mechanical firms and other lawyers. The entire approach is broad in scope, which is refreshing and seems especially key in light today’s vastly increased focus on active, wide-ranging risk management. Hopefully, I will add value to Risk through my years of experience with issues arising from mass tort claims, m & a transactions, indemnification rights and obligations, conglomerates, and “shared insurance” issues, among other legacy liability issues. Risk consultants also will seek to educate clients about their rights with respect to insurance run-offs, insolvencies and schemes of arrangement.

Science and Disease: CDG also offers the opportunity to do more with my passion for science and law through advocacy for persons confronting cancer or other serious diseases. CDG already is involved in contingency fee and/or pro bono work for disease and disability victims when insurers rescind health care or other insurance policies, or refuse to approve or pay for needed therapy. CDG also is supporting new, related pro bono initiatives that will start in 2010. Although there are of course responsible insurers, I’m excited to join in asserting claims against irresponsible insurers and their actions because I’ve personally observed the physical and mental anguish caused by irresponsible actions blocking timely and proper care for individuals facing diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. This area also is exciting because it’s plain there are enormous changes ahead for both health care and science, and it’s inevitable that new issues will divide insureds, hospitals, doctors and insurers, regardless of exactly how the effort ends with respect to federal health care legislation. To say the least, I’m enthusiastic about joining CDG’s teams working on existing and future cases for cancer patients and others, and look forward to involvement in new issues as science and law push forward.

Mass Torts, Due Process, Bankruptcies and Future Claimants: CDG’s practice areas also align with my personal focus on mass tort bankruptcy and mass tort settlement issues, including RAND’s important new study on asbestos bankruptcy trusts. The flexibility of CDG will provide additional opportunities to pursue my interests in working towards bankruptcies, class actions and insurance schemes and runoffs that actually achieve a fair and constitutional balancing of the rights and interests of all concerned, including the rights of current and future corporate and individual claimants against bankruptcy estates and related entities and insurers. In my view, today’s various types of proceedings too often proceed down unconstitutional paths that deprive current and future claimants of their property and due process rights. Transactional Opportunities: CDG’s Joel Goldblatt is an excellent transactional lawyer with significant complimentary experience in related business litigation. It will be enjoyable to work with Joel and his team since that offers new possibilities for work with lawyers around the globe who are part of the International Business Law Consortium. The IBLC, as its known, is a global group of medium and small law firms around the world. I’ve been active in the IBLC for about 4 years, and very much enjoy working with lawyers around the world.

Thank You: I appreciate you taking the time to understand what’s ahead. In some ways, I’ll be the same lawyer staying heavily involved in areas I’ve enjoyed for 25 years. It’s exciting, though, to also look forward to adding new skills and hopefully finding new ways to assist a broader range of clients in new and emerging issues that keep tying back to the myriad intersections between corporate law, tort law, science, insurance, and bankruptcy law.

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