In The News

Former Insurance GC Joins Duane Morris

By Roy Strom
January 2, 2018
The American Lawyer

When Damon Vocke launched an insurance litigation boutique in October 2016, the firm led by the former general counsel of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. reinsurance subsidiary General Re Corp. was marketed as a “nimble and low-cost” alternative to “mega firms.”

A little more than a year later, the Vocke Law Group (VLG) has shut its doors as Vocke and two other lawyers bring their practices to Duane Morris, a firm of more than 650 lawyers. Vocke said in an interview Tuesday that his clients would benefit from the broader geographic reach and legal knowledge offered by Duane Morris.

“We’re really excited to turbocharge what we’re doing and what we think we can continue to do with the broader, highly respected Duane Morris platform, particularly in the Midwest, East Coast and international business,” said Vocke, who held a number of business roles at Gen Re in addition to his title as in-house legal chief.

Joining in the move from VLG to Duane Morris are partner Ronald Lepinskas and special counsel Mark Holton. Lepniskas, who works in Chicago, is also a Gen Re alum, having worked at the Stamford, Connecticut-based company for nearly three years. Prior to joining Vocke at his firm, Lepinskas was a partner at DLA Piper and at Lord, Bissell & Brook, a predecessor to what is now Locke Lord.

Holton was formerly a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher before joining VLG in July of last year, when the new firm made its first batch of lateral hires.

“We were so attracted to Damon and his group because of the sophisticated nature of their practice,” said Matthew Taylor who took over this month as chairman and CEO of Duane Morris. “This is a person who really brings a unique perspective to a law firm servicing the insurance industry. He’s done it all, frankly.”

The legal market for insurers has recently seen a number of headline events. Insurance-focused Sedgwick will be closing its doors for good this month. Duane Morris announced in early December that it would bring on nearly a dozen Sedgwick employment lawyers. ...

“We want the client to be comfortable with the exchange of services at a fair price,” Vocke said. “If it’s commoditized work, you’re going to have a hard time charging more than commoditized rates. What we are doing and pursuing is complex, sophisticated matters that involve C-suite matters … where the rates are not as sensitive. But we want to work with the clients to make sure they’re comfortable that the work we’re delivering is at a fair price from their perspective.” ...

Reprinted with permission from The American Lawyer, © ALM Media Properties LLC. All rights reserved.