Schiff Hardin LLP announced today that Thomas M. Zurek has joined the firm as of counsel in its Insurance and Reinsurance and Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice Groups in Chicago. Zurek has led in-house legal departments at two major insurance companies and brings significant experience in litigation – including arbitration and trial work – as well as transactional matters.
Zurek is a certified arbitrator for the leading insurance and reinsurance industry trade association, ARIAS. He is among few lawyers in the country focused on life insurance-based arbitration, having rendered verdicts in more than 10 arbitration proceedings primarily in the life insurance industry. In addition to practicing law at Schiff Hardin, Zurek serves as president and CEO of Sargasso Mutual Insurance Company, an offshore D&O company that represents the largest mutual financial services companies in the United States.
“With Tom’s extensive ties to the insurance industry, we are deepening an already strong relationship with an important industry sector for the firm,” said Everett J. Cygal, practice group leader of Schiff Hardin’s Insurance and Reinsurance Practice Group. “Clients will benefit from Tom’s counsel and experience as the demand for life insurance-based arbitrations is on the rise.”
Prior to joining Schiff Hardin, Zurek was senior chief legal counsel, executive vice president and secretary of OneAmerica Financial Group. In this capacity, he oversaw all litigation and transactional matters, and served as president of a reinsurance management subsidiary of OneAmerica. Previously, Zurek was general counsel at American General Life Companies (now AIG).
Zurek’s experience includes managing more than 1,300 litigation matters and crafting 13 nationwide class action settlements dealing with market conduct issues, race-based pricing and industrial life issues. He successfully litigated to dismissal three California Section 17200 private attorney general consumer actions and has advocated on behalf of the industry with regard to regulatory rules after the passage of Dodd Frank.
“Schiff Hardin has a national reputation as a commercial litigation powerhouse – particularly in financial services – and I am extremely pleased to be building on this platform in the areas of insurance and reinsurance, and insurance-related arbitration,” Zurek said.
Zurek earned his J.D. from the Drake University Law School, and a B.S. in Business Administration from Drake University.