Both the insurance industry and the legal profession continue to become increasingly dynamic and complex. For over 60 years, Brownlee LLP has met the arising challenges and provided the highest quality legal services to its insurance clients. We are a leading insurance litigation firm in Western Canada, with a proven track record of meeting our clients’ changing needs. We are committed to contributing to the present and future successes of our insurance clients.
Our aim is to understand the expectations of our insurance clients in respect of their needs, goals and objectives and to exceed those expectations. We diligently serve our clients and provide them with the best possible legal services, while maintaining the highest standards of professional integrity. Brownlee LLP is committed to achieving that objective by being at the leading edge of industry developments, being accessible and responsive to our insurance clients, and providing innovative legal solutions.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
The members of Brownlee LLP’s insurance litigation team provide access to special knowledge in a very wide variety of insurance litigation matters including, but not limited to:
- General commercial liability
- Product liability
- Occupiers’ liability
- Transportation and inland marine
- Bodily injury, including catastrophic losses
- Construction liability
- Property and fire losses
- Municipal liability
- Complex coverage issues and first party claims
- Professional liability
- Directors’ and officers’ liability
- Environmental claims
- Premises liability
- Life, health and disability claims
OUR INSURANCE LITIGATION TEAM
At Brownlee LLP, we believe that success is achieved by listening to our clients and understanding their needs. To assist our clients with arriving at decisions and to provide clear and direct advice, we believe it necessary to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes. To that end, we have instilled in our insurance litigation lawyers, paralegals and support staff, the need to keep our clients informed; to listen to our clients; and to be responsive to our clients’ needs. This framework involves constantly monitoring and measuring our ability to meet our insurance clients’ needs on an internal basis. This is achieved, in part, through our insurance litigation Practice Group and client team structure.
For each of our insurance clients, we begin by developing a dedicated team. That team will be comprised of Partners and Associates with varied experience, who have been assembled based upon our understanding of our clients’ particular needs. All team members have a demonstrated track record of confidence, aggressiveness, ingenuity, and client focus. In order to tailor our services to a client’s specific needs, we select insurance litigation Associates and paralegals to ensure an appropriate cross section of experience, at the most cost effective hourly rates. We are very proud of our ability to function as a cohesive team and to provide our clients with the appropriate person for the required task. From a practical perspective, and in order to achieve success on behalf of our insurance clients, we have implemented the following general process as to how our insurance teams function:
At Brownlee LLP, we encourage all members of our insurance teams to develop close working relationships with our clients. It is hoped that these relationships will provide the foundation for file referrals directly to members of our team based upon the determination by our clients as to which lawyer is best suited to have conduct of the matter in question. Where a file is simply referred to one of our contact Partners for assignment, an assessment will be undertaken to determine which team member can provide the most efficient and effective file handling. In order to provide cost effective file handling, Brownlee LLP’s policy is to delegate tasks to junior Associates, students-at-law and paralegals whenever feasible without compromising the provision of high quality and cost effective legal services. After this assessment is conducted, one of our team members is charged with conduct of the file. Regardless of which team member has been assigned conduct of our file, a contact Partner remains accountable for:
- Team members’ compliance with any applicable litigation management guildelines;
- Monitoring the progress of the claim in terms of both the direction and pace of the litigation;
- Ensuring that our team members have timely access to any required legal or paralegal assistance; and
- The provision of substantive, procedural and tactical advice.
Brownlee LLP is dedicated to delivering both effective and efficient legal services to our insurance clients, and we constantly strive to train our team members accordingly. We well recognize the need to control the length of time that files remain in litigation without compromising our clients’ position in resolving claims.
We have experience working with all matter of litigation management systems. We understand our clients’ needs to control their counsel’s file management and billing practices, and are committed to ensuring that all insurance team members comply with our clients’ respective litigation management guidelines.
Our insurance litigators are trained to provide informative, but concise, reports. They are trained to consistently update our clients’ with respect to the status of initiatives focused upon closing files. We pride ourselves in obtaining early and cost effective file resolutions. Insurance team members constantly review alternatives for early file closure on a basis advantageous to our insurance clients. Insurance team members are expected to use all available mechanisms to achieve settlement. While every effort is taken to settle files informally through direct negotiations with opposing counsel, our insurance team members have extensive experience with all forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Effective litigation requires pro-active measures calculated to advance well-conceived strategies. Litigation costs are best spent on those initiatives which meaningfully advance our insurance clients’ positions. Our insurance litigators are trained to be pro-active, to always have a clear game plan, and to focus their efforts on those steps necessary to contribute to the best possible result for our clients.
We believe that the best measure of the quality of our insurance litigation service is feedback from our clients. We constantly strive to maintain open, and candidate, dialogue with our insurance clients to maintain and reinforce practices which are serving our clients well, and reworking any that are not.
Further, our contact Partners are charged with the responsibility of periodically following-up with our insurance team members relative to all active client claims. In addition, Brownlee LLP can provide a quarterly bordereaux outlining the status of all litigation matters. Our contact Partners will review the bordereaux to ensure that the claims are progressing and that cycle times, and by extension of litigation costs, are kept to a minimum.
Our insurance litigators provide legal services throughout Western Canada. We routinely handle files and conduct trials and hearings in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon Territories, Nunavut and Ontario. We have also provided litigation support to claims across Canada, and into the U.S., where there is typically some nexis to Western Canada.
BROWNLEE’S GLOBAL REACH
Brownlee LLP is a member of the Canadian Litigation Counsel (“CLC”), a nationwide affiliation of independent litigation law firms. CLC is in turn, affiliated with similar groups in the United States (The Harmonie Group) and Europe. Our firm has been part of the CLC for approximately 15 years and The Harmonie Group for about half that time, and has found that these memberships serve to significantly increase our ability to access resources, and knowledge and expertise in other jurisdictions all over North America and abroad. We have found there to be a constant line of communication between member firms seeking and offering insights relating to experts, legal issues, judicial and jury tendencies, information about local plaintiffs’ counsel and a variety of other issues and common interests to the insurance industry. These groups also offer a ready source of legal talent and local expertise which is available to us when assistance is needed outside of our jurisdiction.
The Harmonie Group has been forging similar relationships across Europe, Asia and Central and South America, given an ever expanding international presence to the organization. Although these relationships are more recent, they have provided the same type of access to international legal knowledge and expertise that our firm has enjoyed across Canada and the United States. Of course, these are benefits which our insurance clients have reaped as well.
VALUE ADDED SERVICES
Through our many years of acting for insurers, Brownlee LLP has recognized the value of pro-active and coordinated activities to avoid losses, as well as proper education to enhance one’s ability to pursue and defend claims when they arise. This is the risk avoidance focus that all companies, including our insurance clients, should be cognizant of.
We view the opportunity to work as counsel for our insurance clients as also involving a roll in assisting them with their educational and risk management needs, and always make ourselves available as required for this purpose. This is viewed as part of our long term commitment to our insurance clients, and is a contribution to our clients’ overall success.
To that end, we routinely engage in coordinated education and risk management activities with our insurance clients. Such activities include:
- Providing legal updates regarding significant cases and/or changes in law and procedure
- Preparing an insurance law newsletter consisting of topical legal and insurance news and developments, which we circulate to our insurance clients bi-annually
- Conducting insurance industry and Canadian Bar Association seminars. Presentation material is prepared for those seminars, and made available to our insurance clients
- Providing in-house training seminars for our insurance clients. Topics for such seminars are often selected by our clients based upon their training/educational needs
- Conducting regular reviews with our clients of closed and active files, along with claims trends, to ensure the claims are being resolved in an efficient manner, keeping in mind both indemnity payments and litigation costs
Brownlee LLP also offers, both internationally and through CLC and The Harmonie Group, access to our insurance litigation team 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We understand that claims arise at all times, not just during the course of regular business hours. Accordingly, we offer a 24 hour emergency response program, including access to various other agents. This service has been of great utility to our insurance clients, particularly in the category of transportation claims and catastrophic losses.
SHAD A. CHAPMAN
partner, insurance and litigation practice leader