John Hester – Senior Claims Counsel at Lawyers Mutual – could have ended up in Hollywood.
Instead, he has just won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Triangle Business Journal in recognition of his stellar 40-year legal career.
As a young boy in the early 1960s, John auditioned for a role in the film To Kill A Mockingbird. He didn’t land a part in the Oscar-winning classic, but he did fall in love with the law.
After graduating from N.C. State and N.C. Central law school, John was licensed in North Carolina in 1975. He worked in private practice, corporate law and public service before joining Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel in 1985. He has been with the country’s first lawyer-owned legal malpractice carrier ever since.
At Lawyers Mutual, he helped build a Claims Department that has won national acclaim for its personal, peer-based philosophy of handling malpractice claims.
“Being able to work with lawyers every day is a great feeling,” says John. “I help them understand that everything is going to be okay. I tell them I’ve seen this problem before and I know how to get it resolved. I think that’s a real benefit for an insurance company, not just to pay a claim but to be there to listen and help our customers.”
A centerpiece of John’s work at Lawyers Mutual is its Claims Repair program, which encourages lawyers to promptly report case problems. Through early detection and swift remedial action – sometimes with the help of specialized outside counsel – potential malpractice bombs are defused before they explode into lawsuits. The program has a phenomenal 90 percent success rate and saves the company $2 million annually.
“Lawyers Mutual is grateful to have John,” said Dan Zureich, President and CEO of Lawyers Mutual, in a news release. “He has served the lawyers of North Carolina with compassion and distinction for more than 25 years.”
This was the first time the Triangle Business Journal had ever handed out a Corporate Counsel Lifetime Achievement Award. Future recipients will look back and see “John Hester” as the first name on the list.
“I enjoy coming to work each day,” John says. “I get to meet fine attorneys and help them with problems in their cases. Sometimes they call me years later and mention a matter we worked on together that I’ve long forgotten. That is truly a pleasure.”
Atticus Finch would approve.
Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. It is untrue that he auditioned for the role of Boo Radley. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 919-619-2441.
Source: Triangle Business Journal http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/2013/04/meet-the-in-house-lawyers-who-won-at.html