Lawyer Monthly - March 2022

In what ways did working as a government lawyer differ from your work in the private sector? Of course, as a government attorney, you do not have the joys of hourly billing and attracting new clients. Many attorneys may suspect that the job of government attorney is boring, as I originally did. But accomplishing a variety of good results for society while in compliance with the numerous additional laws that apply to government attorneys requires creativity, intensive research and persistence – and seeing the benefits in your community is very rewarding. How did you draw upon your earlier career experience as Insurance Commissioner for Hawaii? Managing government attorneys is no easy task. I gave a lot of praise for a job well done because the media often seems to enjoy frequent criticism of the government and its lawyers. I also established goals for accountability. I emphasised pride in the work, often saying: “Each paper on your desk is not just dried ink on wood pulp; it is important to the life of a person in our community”. As Maui Corporation Counsel I heard all the excuses used to avoid work and learned how to short-circuit such claims and keep the ball rolling. The Division of Insurance (DOI) had a number of attorneys in legal, supervisory and analyst positions. Lessons learned worked well at the DOI as well. I also would not accept a standard government employee response: “That’s how we’ve always done it”. If there is a more compendious and efficient way, that is how we will do it now. Which aspects of this position did you find most interesting? Working with international regulators and working with Insurance Commissioners from the different states with their different views and approaches to the job. WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | MAR 2022 MY LEGAL LIFE - JP SCHMIDT I also actually enjoyed working with the media. What was your strategy for speaking with the media during this time? The media’s standard story is “big bad insurance company beating up on the poor little consumer”. When the media called me, I would spend time explaining all the facets of the issue. They were appreciative because they then got a better story. Government attorneys normally just say: “No comment”. I got frustrated when there was an opposing point of view because the media would talk to me, then they would talk to my opponent (plaintiff’s attorney, union, et al), and I would not get an opportunity to rebut. So, I established a routine where I would tell them my side, then my opponent’s side (fairly, of course) and tell them why I disagreed. That way I got in a pre-rebuttal. 20 How did you work to establish Hawaii as a captive insurance domicile? What other outcomes did your tenure have for the state? Hawaii was one of the first states to enact friendly statutes for captive insurance. We hadgoodexpertise in theDOI.We regularly met with companies and supported the captive managers, reinsurance agents and actuaries in the private sector. We were the second-largest domicile in the US by number of captives and in the top ten in the world. I liked to point out that we were the fifth largest domicile in the world based on capital assets. We held a captives’ conference in Japan once a year to educate companies and insurers on the captive company benefits. As a result, we became the premier domicile for Japanese companies’ captive companies.

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