Celebrating 40 Years of Lawyers Mutual: A Look Back at Connie Crumpler’s 34 Years of Service
As Lawyers Mutual celebrates its 40th anniversary, we would like to take a moment and look back on one of our longest serving employees, Connie Crumpler. Connie retired in February 2016 after being with the company for 34 years.
Connie was the longest tenured employee with Lawyers Mutual and started with the company when it was just five years old. She served in multiple capacities, starting as an accountant then becoming the office manager before settling into the claims administrator position in 1989.
We discussed Connie’s time with Lawyers Mutual with her. These are her observations.
What was it like working for Lawyers Mutual in the beginning?
Our first office was in the basement of the Bar Association Center on Wade Avenue. We were fortunate to have such a close relationship with the Bar Association, as we were able to use their equipment and personnel when needed. We worked closely with them on special programs for lawyers, traveling across the state for speaking engagements.
I heard about the opportunity at Lawyers Mutual through connections I made at a previous employer. I was also a certified meeting planner. Planning meetings was one of my favorite jobs at Lawyers Mutual because I enjoy dealing with details.
What drew you to Lawyers Mutual?
It impressed me that Lawyers Mutual was the first legal liability company to be formed by lawyers for lawyers in the country. Other states took notice and followed their lead.
The location was also close to home for me at the time. John Beard joked that I could walk to work and keep the office open if it snowed.
What do you think made Lawyers Mutual different?
Being a North Carolina company, we understand our insureds better than the average commercial carrier ever can. We are familiar with the lawyers and the kind of practices they have.
In addition, Lawyers Mutual has always treated its insureds as people and not just policies. We offer service that the big commercial companies cannot or will not offer. We encourage insureds to call us if they have problems. There has always been an open ear here.
Over the years our focus has not changed. It remains on service to our insureds.
How has Lawyers Mutual changed over the years?
During the past 40 years Lawyers Mutual has grown from three employees working out of the basement of the Bar Center into a company of around 30 people. We still maintain that small business, personal touch, though.
Our claims attorney staff has grown from one attorney to seven, each bringing expertise in different areas of practice. Because these are North Carolina attorneys, they can easily identify with insureds and know how to handle their problems effectively.
Education has been an important service of Lawyers Mutual since the early 1980s, but we didn’t hire our first Risk Manager until 1990. This allowed our educational services to expand into what is now our Client Services department. We offer CLEs across the state and special in-office programs geared to our lawyers’ specific needs.
What is one of your fondest memories of your time with Lawyers Mutual?
I think it would be preparing the yellow book with the auditors. We would come to the office on a Saturday in blue jeans and order pizza. We each would work on a separate section, sometimes taking a break to watch a game if there was one on. The book had to be done by March 1st, and one year it snowed. We ended up taking our book sections home and calling each other to make sure we were placing things correctly.
What lessons have you learned while with Lawyers Mutual that you will carry with you?
Patience and understanding. The emotional and financial toll of a malpractice claim can be overwhelming to a lawyer. Experienced lawyers call me literally in tears. They are overwhelmed and embarrassed and don’t have the funds to pay their deductible. In such cases I see my role as a counselor of sorts. I try to reassure them and let them know that they are not alone. Then I work with them to set up a payment plan to meet their needs as well as the company’s.
I have some insureds who call me if their payment is going to be a day or two late because they appreciate what we do to help them.
Any parting thoughts?
Lawyers Mutual cares about our insureds and their situations. We are dedicated to giving them the best service, and I think we succeed in doing that. Everyone here works together.
I really enjoyed the people I worked with as well as our insureds, and I miss the people the most. I love this company. What else is there to say?