This spring, we may have seen the last of the virtual-only industry conferences that were necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic (we hope). While I expect that virtual participation will remain an option in the future, I’m looking forward to doing some real face-to-face networking — fingers crossed that can happen before the end of 2021.
Nevertheless, I applaud the organizations and event organizers that had to pivot so sharply last year to help us all stay connected in new ways. It’s amazing how we acclimated to meeting and having important conversations in one shared virtual space.
If you didn’t do much digital or online collaboration before spring of 2020, you likely now have a whole new comfort level and understanding of what that looks like. That’s a very good thing if you work in mass tort litigation, because using technology to manage such complex cases is now seen as critical.
During the three virtual panel discussions that I was a part of during March and April, technology was front of mind, especially for ensuring that all parties are using the same data:
- At the American Bar Association (ABA) Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar in Tucson, I joined a conversation titled “Using Insurance Assets to Resolve Mass Tort Claims in Bankruptcy: Key Issues Facing Debtors, Insurers, and Claimants.” The bankruptcy process relies heavily on technology to meet notification requirements, and in mass tort cases such as asbestos, the volume and complexity of claims require sophisticated databases and expertise to collect and value claims to satisfy all stakeholders, so that a plan can be confirmed.
- During Perrin’s Sexual Abuse Litigation and Coverage Conference, we talked about how policyholders — including nonprofit organizations, schools, and religious institutions — may lack the records or analytical rigor that large corporations typically have at their disposal. Unlike an asbestos litigation database, where there is a clear record of where people worked and when, for sex abuse cases, many data points can be missing. You have to collect and synthesize — and even that isn’t simple due to the sensitive and complicated nature of the cases. For example, you may need dates, but a victim may not be certain when exactly an incident occurred.
- Finally, I participated on the “Intersection of Insurance and Bankruptcy Law” panel at ABA TIPS ICLC: Hot Topics in the World of Insurance. An array of complex insurance issues can arise in bankruptcy proceedings — one more reason that centralizing and organizing your policy and claims data is vital.
While these virtual conferences were a success both in delivering great content and fostering connections between participants and panelists, I look forward to being back together in-person this fall. I hope to see you (fully vaccinated, of course!) at any of the events listed below.
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For nearly 25 years, Elizabeth Hanke has been a trusted advisor in both the settlement and litigation arenas, and KCIC clients can always expect her to work passionately on their behalf.Learn More About Elizabeth