X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
NAME: Christopher C. Mansfield TITLE: Senior vice president and general counsel AGE: 51 ORGANIZATION: Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group is a collection of diversified financial services companies that together comprise the seventh largest U.S. insurer. It’s also the nation’s leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance. Liberty Mutual, with 37,000 employees in 16 countries, reported 2000 revenue of $13.5 billion. LEGAL DEPARTMENT: Mansfield oversees 786 lawyers and some 1,100 paralegals and support staff, making it the third largest in-house legal department in the country, according to Corporate Legal Times magazine. Most of the attorneys work in the company’s 72-staff legal offices in the United States and Canada defending policyholders in personal injury litigation. The 46 lawyers at Liberty Mutual’s Boston headquarters each specialize in one of five key practice areas: corporate matters, corporate litigation, underwriting support, government affairs or employment law. CHIEF RESPONSIBILITIES: Mansfield works on things of major financial and strategic importance to Liberty Mutual, such as mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, real estate deals, offshore reinsurance transactions and major litigation. SEPT. 11: Liberty Mutual estimates it will pay between $200 million and$300 million for claims related to September’s terrorist attacks, making it the worst catastrophe in Liberty Mutual’s 89-year history. Mansfield won’t say how many claims related to the Sept. 11 attacks the company has received, although they are for damage to apartments, office buildings and automobiles near the World Trade Center, for at least some of the four planes destroyed in the crashes and for workers’ compensation and business interruption. Mansfield has been on the phone with state regulators from Massachusetts and New York assuring them that Liberty Mutual has sufficient reinsurance protection and sufficient liquidity to pay the claims and that it has enough adjustors processing them. Mansfield has also reviewed Liberty Mutual’s contracts with its reinsurers to make sure he understood what each party’s liability is. His staff talked to the reinsurers to make sure that they meet their obligations to pay their share. AVOIDING A CRISIS: Since Sept. 11, insurance for acts of terrorism has become virtually unavailable. That threatens to create a crisis when business insurance contracts expire at the end of this year since lenders won’t finance business deals without such coverage. To avoid a potential economic catastrophe, the federal government and the insurance industry are working on legislation to limit insurers’ liability for future terrorist attacks by making the government the insurer of last resort. Liberty Mutual’s chief government affairs lawyer, Paul Mattera, is overseeing the issue for Liberty in Washington, D.C., and he keeps Mansfield abreast of developments. Mansfield said he “looked at drafts of proposed legislation and gave my opinion to the management at Liberty Mutual.” Although he doesn’t expect to do any lobbying personally on the proposal, Mansfield says he’ll “be involved in the strategy of how we move forward.” MUTUAL HOLDING COMPANY: Mansfield is advising management as the company prepares to restructure its ownership by forming a mutual holding company, which would wholly own all its various companies. Liberty Mutual’s businesses are currently organized under three separate parent companies. As a holding company, Liberty Mutual could issue some stock, making mergers and acquisitions easier to perform. Mansfield filed the company’s plan with state insurance commissioners in Massachusetts and Wisconsin and is helping to guide it through the regulatory process. He testified at a Massachusetts Division of Insurance hearing on the proposal and attended a similar hearing in Wisconsin. Mansfield said he expects the proposal to be approved by the necessary two-thirds majority of policyholders in a vote ending Nov. 8. LITIGATION: Liberty Mutual has thousands upon thousands of pending cases at any given time. More than 90 percent are personal injury lawsuits against its policyholders. The rest of the litigation is the usual array of employment, antitrust and class action cases, Mansfield said. The company’s most high-profile case at the moment is one filed by three policyholders seeking to block Liberty Mutual’s reorganization. The plaintiffs contend that the company hasn’t adequately disclosed the negative impact it would have on policyholders. For instance, they say, policyholders would lose voting control over Liberty Mutual. Mansfield said their claims are “simply wrong legally and factually,” adding that policyholders will still own 51 percent of the new entity. The case was filed in Massachusetts Superior Court and is still in the discovery phase. This past July, the judge denied the company’s motion to dismiss the case. At the same time, he also denied the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to postpone the mailing of the company’s policy information statements regarding its reorganization plan. Mansfield hired attorneys from the Boston office of New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to represent Liberty Mutual. He said he is “intimately involved” in the litigation. OUTSIDE COUNSEL: Mansfield relies on more than 2,000 outside law firms to do defense work for policyholders. Two of the ones he turns to the most are New York’s Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker and Dallas’ Jenkens & Gilchrist. Liberty Mutual’s 477 “preferred firms,” which agree to follow certain billing guidelines in exchange for large volumes of work, handle defense work related to workers’ compensation, auto and general liability insurance policies. Mansfield said that having such a close relationships with outside counsel leads to better results. The bulk of the defense work related to other types of insurance coverage, such as employment practice liability insurance, goes to Liberty’s 421 “specialty firms.” Some law firms are in both categories. ROUTE TO THE TOP: Mansfield earned undergraduate and law degrees at Boston College, finishing in 1975. He became an associate in-house counsel at Liberty Mutual in Boston, where he had worked one summer during law school. Law firms weren’t doing much hiring when he graduated because of the weak economy, he said. “I came to an insurance company with the expectation I’d do litigation for two years and (then) go work for a law firm,” he said. Instead, he found that he enjoyed insurance work. So he stayed and rose through the ranks. He spent the late 1970s and early 1980s defending asbestos insurance cases. In 1983, he became one of two associate general counsels at the company. Two years later, Mansfield, who was 35 at the time, was chosen to replace the previous general counsel, who was retiring. The company had 250 lawyers when he took control of the legal department in 1985. FAMILY: Mansfield’s wife, Laura, is a nurse. The couple has two grown children, Carolyn, who works for a Boston consulting firm, and Brendan, a senior at Boston College. LAST BOOK READ: “John Adams,” by David McCullough.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.