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Selena J. Linde
Insurance Coverage Partner
Perkins Coie L.L.P.
Selena Linde, a policyholder attorney, served as lead counsel for Motors Liquidation Co. — formerly General Motors Corp. — as the liquidated company litigated with its insurers to cover $1 billion in environmental and asbestos liabilities. In the past five years, Ms. Linde has recovered nearly $1 billion for her clients, which have included Amtrak, Starbucks Coffee Co., Crocs Retail Inc., and Eddie Bauer L.L.C.Ms. Linde is the primary editor and author of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Policyholder Primer on Insurance, and speaks to audiences nationwide about insurance coverage issues. She also is chairwoman of Perkins Coie’s diversity committee in Washington and a member of the law firm’s national diversity committee, which supports women and minority attorneys within the company.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
First and foremost, work hard and don’t settle for anything short of excellence in the work product you deliver. Your work is your reputation. Second, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and take risks when appropriate. I still encounter bright women who end up with the short end of the stick because they don’t want to rock the boat. You should never be afraid to speak up when you see injustice — ensure your voice is heard — you are helping not only yourself but future generations.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
Invest in your associates and staff and protect them…Ensuring that the junior attorneys and staff that you work with are always recognized and appreciated for their contributions is critical to developing a strong practice. True loyalty between you and your colleagues is something that must be developed and nurtured, never expected nor taken for granted. You are only as good as the team you play with. Strengthen the team, and everyone benefits.
WHAT’S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
How exciting and intellectually stimulating it is to be a policyholder attorney. I love the opportunity to advocate for my clients who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums for insurance only to receive denials from their insurance carriers for claims that should be covered. I am passionate about my work and I love working with my clients to maximize their insurance recovery and bring revenue into their companies. I have no reservations about my confidence that I am fighting every day for what is right and I truly love every minute of it. Insurance is a great field for those seeking intellectual stimulation from their work. People often laugh when I say this, but insurance law varies by state and is constantly changing, so to succeed in this field you have to have a true love of learning and stay apprised of recent legal decisions throughout the country. In addition, the issues you deal with as a coverage attorney are diverse. Currently, I am working on cases involving coverage for government investigations, cyber and data breach liabilities, environmental liabilities, securities class actions, employee dishonesty, and business interruption coverage from Superstorm Sandy. Each day is different, and if you practice in this field, you will never feel you are in a rut.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
I think the courts will be grappling with climate change and cyber security/data breach coverage issues for some time to come. The case law on coverage in these areas is in its infancy and the extent of coverage available under the current policies will be shaped by the courts over the next decade.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
I like to kick back at home with my husband and three sons, either around our backyard pool in the summer or just around the house enjoying each other. I am also a closet “wannabe” designer. I am addicted to the Canadian interior designer Candice Olson and I dream about someday finding the time to design my home in her style.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET VICE?
I’ve been known to play some cards and roll some dice on occasion. In fact, my second son was born during a vacation in Las Vegas — my water broke at a blackjack table. Although my son was premature, I left Vegas with a healthy beautiful baby boy. I like to say I won the best jackpot ever in Las Vegas.
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
Acting. I went to a performing arts high school and pursued theater during both college and law school. I love to entertain and this skill translates into my ability to make people feel comfortable in a very short time, which can be very helpful in breaking the ice in serious negotiations or in adversarial meetings.
WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I would love to take my family on an African safari or to dive the Great Barrier Reef.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.