The American Bar Assocation featured Hurwitz & Fine Attorney Agnieszka Wilewicz in its Summer 2019 Member Spotlight. Learn more about Agnes here:
Hurwitz & Fine, P.C. Member (and recently promoted Shareholder)
Currently my practice is almost exclusively insurer-oriented coverage litigation,
although I also dabble in environmental defense.
Role with ICLC/years of involvement, and why you participate
Though I have been a card-carrying member of the ABA since my first year of law
school, I have only been active in ICLC for a couple of years. Previously I was quite
active in DRI and held a leadership position there (Long Tail & Toxic Torts SLG
Chair of the Insurance Law Committee). However, as a firm we decided to branch
out our practice further and get more involved in the ABA. At first I was involved in
the Section of Litigation, but found my home with the ICLC and have stayed since.
I participate because the group of practioners is lively, engaged, intelligent, and
like-minded. It’s wonderful to have a growing group of coverage friends around the
county to talk shop.
How/why did you first become interested in insurance practice?
While most people “fall into” insurance and/or coverage, I was almost literally
born into it. My father is a major claims adjuster, my mother is a broker, and my
brother recently started a position as an underwriter. We actually used to discuss
antisubrogation and additional insured endorsements at the dinner table while I
was in high school. The running joke growing up was that I would be the coverage
attorney to round it out, so after law school it was a natural fit (and I already had
many industry connections).
What keeps you interested in insurance practice?
I geekily and readily admit that coverage is fun. Every day is a new issue, a new
strategy, a new form, or a new angle in this ever-evolving area of law. Not only do
you get to litigate cases, but you get to counsel clients on recommendations of
things they can implement that can impact their entire customer base. No one day
is the same as the last. The best part for me is that there’s “an answer” in nearly
every case. Unlike in personal injury litigation or even products liability matters, in
insurance policy interpretation cases you can get to an answer almost at the outset.
It is incredibly satisfying to brief your position and have the Judge agree with you
in writing and close a case. The best is when that Judge cites some of your motion
paper language in her decision. It’s incredibly motivating.
What is the most interesting insurance-related issue currently on your desk?
I have a number of environmental coverage cases on my desk currently and
I frequently counsel clients on long-tail and toxic tort cases. Some of the recent
MDL litigation regarding increasingly-complicated chemicals has spawned really
interesting coverage issues from things as simple as definition interpretation to
applicability of manuscript exclusions and how they interplay with multiple policies
What insurance-related issues are you telling clients to watch going forward?
Most recently, our firm has been advising our clients about New York’s Child Victim’s
Act and all of the potential claims and ramifications thereof. This law expanded the
statute of limitations for child victims to seek prosecution for abuse that happened
years ago. It opens a temporary look-back window for victims to file claims, some as
far back as half a century ago. Given the recent developments in how courts have
been interpreting the definition of an “occurrence”, these claims have significant
potential for wide-spread coverage implications. The window opens on August 14th
of this year, so it is particularly pressing.
When you are not focused on insurance matters, what do you like to do?
I am an avid and otherwise voracious reader. I own more books that I care to admit
(though my family will readily explain how we have a book case in every room of the
house, and I’m under constant, albeit ineffective, moratorium on buying more). I also
hoard books on my multiple kindles. Contemporaneously, I love to travel. We make
it to Europe at least once a year, and I am never bored if on the move. Hence, I love
participating in the ABA’s conferences as I get to go explore parts of the country I
haven’t seen before.
Your go-to karaoke song is:
Appropriately for a lawyer, my go-to has often been Fiona Apple’s Criminal. However,
I no longer perform in public following a late-night margherita incident that resulted
in a burned down restaurant. The rest is history.
What advice would you offer to young practitioners?
Pace yourself. The practice of law is a lesson in ebbs and flows, and though one
day might be overwhelming the next might be calmer. It is thus important to be
mindful of yourself and know that the work will always be there (hopefully). I also
repeat a word of advice that I received from a managing partner at the start of my
own career – you will always be behind at work. It’s often the nature of litigation.
Once you’re completely caught up on everything on your desk, it might be time
to quit or retire. Before then, however, the sooner you make peace with the fact
that you’re always swimming upstream, the sooner you will learn to balance the
various pressures in life.
For Agnes' complete attorney bio, click here.