Legal Departments Of The Year: The Hartford's Rigorous Analysis Process Helps Avoid Litigation
When The Hartford gets involved in litigation, its lawyers don't procrastinate.
"We don't just put the litigation on automatic pilot," said Alan J. Kreczko, executive vice president and general counsel at The Hartford. "We do an early strategic assessment of the litigation and make a determination if it's in our best interest to settle early or litigate through until the end."
Kreczko said some insurance companies wait to do this strategic assessment of a case when they are much further along in the process. "At that point, they may have already sunk a lot of costs into it," said Kreczko. "If you front load that strategic assessment, that can really have an impact on whether you opt to go for an early settlement."
It's that sort of no-nonsense approach that has earned The Hartford the Connecticut Law Tribune's Legal Departments of the Year Management of In-House Counsel award.
"We're very gratified to win the award and to be recognized for our in-house counsel work," said Kreczko.
"We're very proud of the way we go about managing our cases and the results we achieve," said Jim Heavner, senior vice president and associate general counsel, who is the Hartford's director of litigation. "It's a cohesive, motivated team of litigators who are spending every day trying to do the right thing for The Hartford, the shareholders and its customers."
The Hartford Financial Services Group has 153 lawyers, 144 of whom work in Hartford or Simsbury. The litigation group is divided into a variety of units, each with particular areas of expertise, such as class actions and bad faith claims; asbestos, environmental, and toxic tort claims; and group benefits, annuities, and mutual fund litigation.
The litigation group handles arbitrations and is responsible for managing the insurance programs purchased by The Hartford. The litigation group reports to a director of litigation and the various units share resources, including those involved in electronic discovery. Most of The Hartford's in-house litigators have significant prior litigation experience in private practice, many as partners at major national or top-tier regional law firms.
"I'm particularly proud of the work our office does to avoid litigation," said Kreczko.
Kreczko offers two reasons for that success.