LINDA DAKIN-GRIMMPosted On: Jul. 29, 2007 12:00 AM CST
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy L.L.P.
In her eight years as a litigator specializing in reinsurance at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, Linda Dakin-Grimm has been involved in many high-profile and complex cases. Among recent cases, she helped a major U.S. insurer recover from its reinsurer in settling a series of complex environmental claims. The confidential arbitration involved 18 different reinsurance treaties and documents spanning three decades. Ms. Dakin-Grimm also is former co-chair of Milbank’s diversity committee and has organized roundtables to discuss the challenges of women in reinsurance. Before joining Milbank, she was an attorney at Chadbourne & Parke L.L.P.
Advice to young women: "A certain amount of shameless doesn’t hurt. I saw a startling statistic that, right now, entering classes in college are close to 60% girls. It startled me, because they’re not 60% of the population. Girls do very well in school, and law schools are churning out 50% or more women graduates, and these people come into the workforce in law firms and other related jobs. Eight years later, typically, they’ve left the practice. There are a number of reasons for that, but some of the reasons have to do with the fact that you typically get out of law school in your 20s and want to spend the next 10 years after that having a family. There’s a tremendous tension between pushing your career and having a family. That exists in any field. Leaving that issue aside, with some exceptions, a lot of the women who come out of law school are better than they know and are less likely to tout themselves and blow their own horn. They’re more easily disillusioned and don’t see the long term that they might in fact have a future as a partner at the law firm. I would like to encourage some of our really talented young women to realize that they’re really fabulous."
Professional role model: "I worked with David Raim and Jonathan Bank at Chadbourne. Unrelated to insurance and reinsurance, I worked with Stanley Arkin at Chadbourne who was a white-collar criminal lawyer. I’d say those were the three people who were my mentors when I had mentors....In law and law firms, you really have to have a mentor, you have to have somebody who has decided that you’re worth supporting and kind of brings you along. In my case, it wasn’t a woman. Nowadays there’s a lot of talk in law about how few women are partners in law firms, particularly in litigation. To succeed in a firm, you need to find a mentor somewhere."
Early aspirations: "Until I realized that you had to have a grasp of science, I wanted to be a doctor. I’m married to a scientist, but that was not my aptitude. I think fairly young I realized that all I could do was talk. So a field where talking, reading, analyzing things that sort of veered into law. I didn’t know what that meant, though, other than watching TV lawyers. I went from college to law school...I was just sort of going along with the herd. I started out working with a big law firm, though I made a move. In the ’80s, I was a young associate with Chadbourne & Parke in Los Angeles. When you’re a young lawyer at a big law firm, you kind of do the work that’s handed to you or that you scout around and see what’s interesting. I started doing some reinsurance work with David Raim (of Chadbourne’s Washington office) who was one of the five or so guys in the country who did that kind of work. He still is a well-respected and terrific reinsurance dispute lawyer. It was by working with him that I got interested in this kind of work. If I had been at another law firm, it might have been something else."