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Vol. 10 - Issue 4

June 17, 2021


New Coverage Opinions Column: Leading Coverage Lawyers Share “If I Knew Then What I Know Now”

Michael Young

In the last issue of Coverage Opinions I introduced a new column: “Leading Coverage Lawyers Share ‘If I Knew Then What I Know Now.’”

The idea is to reach out to some of the nation’s leading coverage lawyers and ask them to share with readers lessons that they have learned over the years or things they wish they knew earlier on.  In essence, the column is designed to give younger lawyers the benefit of wisdom -- without their need to spend decades figuring it out for themselves.

I asked Ron Schiller and Dan Layden, shareholders at Philadelphia’s Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller, to be the first to take the plunge.  Ron and Dan kindly agreed and did a wonderful job.  The two set a high bar.

For the follow-up, Michael Young, of HeplerBroom, LLC in St. Louis, was gracious enough to put pen to paper with his thoughts. 


Mike, a 2002 graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law, is a litigation attorney with a primary emphasis on insurance coverage and bad faith.  He represents insurers in Missouri and Illinois in complex insurance coverage matters at all stages of the claims process. He also has advised insurers in drafting policy language, advocating legislative changes and developing claims best practices. Mike is a frequent lecturer on insurance law topics and has written numerous articles in this field. He is a member of the faculty for the Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)’s Claims College in the School of Extra-Contractual Claims. For the past three years, he has been selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America in insurance law.


When I started practicing insurance coverage and bad faith law, my goal was to provide the best legal representation to my insurer clients that I possibly could. I wanted to master the policy forms and their history, the underwriting principles, the basic insurance law of my local jurisdictions, the trends in other jurisdictions that could make their way here, etc. All of that is important. But what I have learned may be the most important skill is how to communicate all of that knowledge and experience in a way that can be effectively understood by my particular audience.

The relatively new claims adjuster may understand concepts and ideas very differently that an in-house coverage counsel with decades of experience in the industry. A personal lines guru is not necessarily the same as a commercial lines veteran. Supervisors have a different perspective from the front-line adjuster. An appellate court judge may not see an issue the same as a trial court judge, particularly given time constraints, access to clerks, and pre-bench legal practice.

Some audiences may require more explanation, others less. Perhaps one client may want a lengthy written coverage opinion. For others, an email or simple phone call may do. Maybe some in your audience will want to know the finer legal points of the duty to defend. On the other hand, too much "legalese" may leave others screaming!

All audiences, however, deserve both respect and my honest evaluation or argument in as clear, concise, and yes, simple, manner as possible. In my mind, the key is not necessarily to be the smartest or the toughest or the most experienced insurance lawyer in town. My goal instead is be an effective communicator on insurance law and bad faith issues so that my insurer clients or the courts can make the best decisions on the issues at hand. Figuring out how to accomplish this goal requires patience, experience and good listening skills, but I really do think this is what the practice is all about.

Michael Young
HeplerBroom, LLC
St. Louis

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