Editor: Kelly, tell us about your company and your responsibilities.
Freeman: Meadowbrook Insurance Group is a risk management organization offering a full range of insurance products and services focused on niche and specialty program business. Our subsidiaries include retail insurance agencies, insurance companies and fee-for-service operations.
My responsibilities include corporate and commercial transactional work, managing non-claims litigation, corporate regulatory compliance and providing day-to-day legal and business advice to the executive management team on corporate, commercial, employment and insurance law matters and business operations.
Editor: In what DRI activities do you participate?
Freeman: The question should be "in what DRI activities have I not participated?" I have been involved in leadership almost since the day I joined DRI. I noticed that there weren't many young lawyers at a seminar I attended, and wrote DRI, asking if there was a committee for newer attorneys. As a result of that letter, I was one of the founding members of DRI's Young Lawyers Committee, which now has over 4,300 members. Thereafter, I was asked to begin another new committee, DRI's Appellate Advocacy Committee. Later, I served on the Law Institute, which oversees the content and quality of DRI's continuing legal education programs. From there, I was elected to the Board of Directors of DRI. This month, I ended my second term as the Secretary/Treasurer of the organization.
In addition to leadership, I am a member of the Employment, Appellate Advocacy, Trial Tactics, Diversity and Insurance Committees. I have attended and presented at DRI's CLE seminars and written articles in For the Defense and In-House Quarterly , DRI's flagship publications.
Editor: How has DRI has helped you in your professional career?
Freeman: DRI has been a cornerstone in my career and has definitely contributed to my success. DRI's legal educational seminars are without exception the best I have attended. The yearly seminars provide me with advanced, up-to-date education in substantive law directly related to my responsibilities here at Meadowbrook. By being active in DRI, I improved my speaking, writing and, in my past life, marketing skills. My involvement in DRI also guided my personal career development - I had regular access to experienced, nationally renowned attorneys, in private practice and in-house. Learning from these attorneys helped shape my career.
Editor: Would you recommend that other corporate counsel with responsibilities similar to yours join DRI and why?
Freeman: Yes. As an in-house attorney, especially in a smaller law department, it is easy to focus on the matter of the hour. DRI helps to broaden my knowledge base and keep me up to date on pending legislation, proposed court rule changes and litigation trends that may impact my company. Likewise, DRI keeps me up to date on important case law developments in my core practice areas. But the most important benefit of DRI is the number of meaningful contacts I have developed nationwide. Through DRI, I have met many in-house counsel and continue to increase my circle of contacts. DRI programs often have an "in-house only" breakfast or luncheon so that in-house attorneys have time to connect and discuss common issues.
Through DRI, I also know attorneys in private practice I can call to get a quick answer to a state law question - answers I can rely upon. When litigation strikes, I not only know attorneys in whatever state I need, but often know the best litigators in the state. Being a DRI member has made me a more knowledgeable, resourceful, meaningful advocate for my company and has provided opportunities for me to market my company's businesses. I would encourage in-house counsel to join and become active.