Mills Oakley bolsters insurance offering

Newcomer is a multi-award winner with a wealth of experience

Mills Oakley bolsters insurance offering

Insurance News

By Nicola Middlemiss

National law firm Mills Oakley has bolstered its insurance offering, adding a multi-award-winner and industry veteran to the team.

CEO John Nerurker confirmed yesterday that Nieva Connell had officially joined Mills Oakley, coming on board as a partner after departing Barry.Nilsson.

“Our insurance clients have expressed a clear preference for firms which not only have a national footprint, but also a broad offering in each location,” said Nerurker. “Nieva’s arrival will add considerable depth to our Melbourne insurance capability.”

Connell, who won the Law Institute of Victoria’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award in 2017, advises clients on insurance claims, as well as on coverage disputes, particularly those involving public liability, professional indemnity, product liability and first party industrial special risks (ISR).

She is also an expert in complex litigation and has defended a number of prominent class actions.

Speaking to Insurance Business, Connell said she chose to specialise in insurance because it matched her perception of what being a lawyer is all about.

“As an insurance lawyer, you spend a lot of time in the courtroom and your day to day life is immersed deeply in the fundamentals of law – advising on tort law, contract law, property, equity and statutory interpretation,” she said. “I genuinely cannot think of another area of law that I would rather practise in.”

Discussing the challenging and rewarding elements of her role, Connell said they often intermingled, with the most challenging aspects regularly doubling up as the most rewarding.

“I enjoy providing advice to clients on complex issues and the process of formulating an opinion and refining it so that it is succinct and clearly understood by my clients,” she said.

“Even after nearly 20 years of practising in insurance law, novel factual and legal situations arise that I haven’t advised on before. The constant intellectual challenges are stimulating and prevent me from ever becoming bored at work.”

Connell, who is president of the Women in Insurance’s Victorian branch, also said she finds it incredibly rewarding to see young lawyers building their skills.

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside many talented young women – yes, they have mainly been women, because for some reason insurance law attracts a lot of female lawyers – and have seen them flourish into exceptional lawyers and service providers,” she said.

“It is important to me that I mentor women in the insurance industry – not just because I am president of Women in Insurance Victoria – but because when I started out nearly two decades ago there were

not as many women either as insurance lawyers or in the insurance industry generally, so I didn’t have many people to look up to. That has certainly changed now, with the insurance industry ranks are filled with amazing, talented women.”

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