Being an attorney has become much more than a high-profile profession. It’s also a business.
“The profession has become very mobile and entrepreneurial over the last 20 years,” said Casey, who earned his undergraduate degree in accounting and is co-leader of Locke Lord’s Regulatory and Transactional Insurance Practice Group. “The business of law is developing your own client base, growing that and keeping it. You’ve got to get the bills out, get the bills collected, manage younger lawyers on your team, engage in rigorous business development and marketing and constantly hone your legal skills. You are really running a business.
“You’ve got to develop your own business with contacts, create a referral network, and get your name out whether it’s speaking, getting published or becoming known as an expert or go-to lawyer in your industry focus or area of legal specialty. The days of (attorneys) going to the golf course in the afternoon with prospective clients as your primary means of business development are long gone. If that’s your source for securing new business then you are living in the 70s. We are also salespeople. Some lawyers are afraid to ask and close the sale of the new client. That’s a part of your job and you ought to be proud of it and you ought to do it well. Then, of course, you must deliver legal service well too, as this is a client service business.”
Casey is regarded as one of the most respected corporate insurance attorneys in the business. Casey, a 1987 graduate of the Moritz School of Law at The Ohio State University, focuses his practice in corporate, transactional, and business law; mergers and acquisitions of insurance companies; privacy and security; multi-state insurance regulation and administrative law; social media; and electronic commerce and other technology aspects of insurance, financial services and health care.
“The boardroom is my courtroom,” Casey said succinctly.
What is insurance law?
“It is contract law. It is tort law. It is regulatory law. It is property law. It’s business transactions, corporate and tax law. It’s about as comprehensive as it can get. Insurance law isn’t some little narrow kind of field,” he said.
Casey, who graduated from metro Atlanta’s Dunwoody High School with the intent of entering law school once receiving his undergraduate, said he chose not to “follow the crowd” to Athens. Instead, he studied accounting at Auburn.
He’s glad he did.
“Understanding accounting -- and finance too -- is a daily part of what I do,” he said. “I’m shocked when I see business lawyers that don’t know how to read financial statements. They shouldn’t be a business lawyer without that skill and knowledge. In mergers and acquisition transactions, I need to be able to understand how the client is pricing the deal. To write it up in the contract, I have to understand the financial concepts to draft it accurately and clearly. Also, I need to walk the walk and talk the talk with my investment banker contacts.”
“Insurance is really finance when you boil it down. You are financing the risk of a loss. A lot of people don’t see it that way.”
Aside from the numbers/accounting aspect of business law, Casey is proud to be a pioneer in the field of laws and regulations regarding social media and electronic business transactions, or e-commerce, as Casey referred to it.
“E-commerce is a different channel, or medium, for transacting business,” he said. “On one level, you have some new laws that you can call internet-specific laws, such as online privacy laws, electronic signatures. Then you have old laws that need new interpretations or re-thought – how they might be applied in the context of internet transactions. In my particular area in financial services and insurance, we are dealing with intangible product-services to begin with, so it presented an opportunity to get rid of paper, basically.”
One example, Casey cited, came in the form of electronic signatures – contractual agreements on paper where one party signs his or her name by the click of a mouse.
“Consumers want to transact business electronically, global and on the road, when they want and on-demand. They don’t want to horse around with paper filings and pushing paper when they don’t have to. We can save some money, of course, and streamline the business work flow and get rid of the paper.
“I think the federal government has not adequately addressed legally-valid electronic signatures in the context of the impending health insurance exchanges, which are supposed to make purchasing health insurance policies an online process. That’s an area that I’ll be working on soon I hope.”
Outside of his law office, Casey has remained professionally active. Not only has he served as an adjunct professor at Georgia State University, where he taught insurance law – in the school’s well-known risk management and insurance department – but has also been published in Risk Retention Reporter, California Broker, the Life Office Management Association’s Resource Magazine, A.M. Best Company, and Insurance Law360.