December 21, 2014

Of Counsel - Florida Law

Florida Lawyer Stacey Giulianti Knows Insurance Law...

.. from the inside out. Giulianti used to do battle against insurance companies; now he works for one.

Art Levy | 8/18/2011

After graduating from law school in 1993, Stacey A. Giulianti chose a conventional path to a career in business litigation.

Stacey A. Giulianti
Stacey A. Giulianti, 43
Chief legal officer
Florida Peninsula Insurance

Boca Raton

Background: Graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1993; before joining Florida Peninsula, he represented policyholders in suits against insurance companies.

Roots: He grew up in Hollywood, where his mother, Mara Giulianti, served multiple terms as mayor.

Family: Wife, Christina; sons, Nico, 13, and Daniel, 5?
[Photo: Michael Price]

He went to work first for a statewide firm, then partnered at several smaller firms, all the while developing his specialty of representing policyholders against insurance companies. After handling thousands of cases and taking dozens to trial, Giulianti became well known within the industry — and got the attention of a group of insurance industry executives wanting to start their own insurance company. They asked him to be the fledgling firm's in-house counsel.

"They basically wanted the proverbial wolf to guard the henhouse — I hate to cast myself in that light, but I'm just trying to be honest with you," he says. "I was the guy that knew the mistakes that insurance companies were making, and when the group was getting together they wanted somebody with that perspective as opposed to somebody that was always seeing it from the insurance company's side."

So in 2005 Giulianti became chief legal officer of Florida Peninsula Insurance. The move put him on the other side of cases and gave him a new understanding and appreciation for the in-house role that he says he honestly hadn't given much thought to before. Being an in-house counselor, he says, is trickier than it looks.

» Middle ground: "You have to maintain neutrality to be able to advise a company on what the best course of action is. Your job is not to be the best friend to the board. Your job is to be almost a wise uncle and to say, 'This is what you're about to face, both positive and negative, and here are my recommendations. Here are your options.' "

» Job requirements: "You have to know the subject area, but you also have to know how a company runs. You have to know spreadsheets. You have to know finance. You have to know diplomacy, human resources. You have to almost be like a really good hotel concierge at the top hotel in Manhattan."

» Ethical challenges: "Normally, you give advice to a client who is completely independent. The rules of professional conduct understand that companies have inside lawyers and so it requires you to not only give unbiased advice to your board of directors — even if it's unpopular advice — but it also requires you to seek outside opinions when you are not certain that you are being as neutral as you can be."

» Why do it? "There are two major reasons. One, as a general counsel, you don't usually have to wear a suit and tie every day. That's the most important reason. And the second thing is I'm never bored. You're not just constantly litigating and going in front of the same judges and making the same arguments over and over again. In January 2010, we bought the Edison Insurance Co., a $45-million company, so I worked with the outside regulatory counsels and merger counsels to make that deal happen. That's exciting. Unfortunately, we get horrible claims. We get shooting deaths, and we get drownings, and we get things of that nature, which is also challenging. We also have a special investigative unit. We investigate fraudulent claims. We've had a dozen arrests over the last year and a half, so I'm involved in dealing with law enforcement, which is unbelievably exciting."

Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law

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