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The Adjuster’s Advocate
Shane Smith Is Always Evolving
Fighting the Good Fight
I have been an attorney at the Merlin Law Group in the Tampa, Florida, office for six years now. In that time, my role at MLG has evolved. I often work directly with Chip Merlin and his team on a variety of cases, though many of the cases are based in Florida (with me being licensed in Florida). I lend support with larger commercial cases, for the most part. My role isn’t all casework. Over the last few years, I’ve helped Chip prep various speeches he’s held in front of public insurance adjusters. Speech writing is certainly a change of pace from working on cases, but it’s a good way to tackle current issues without jumping into a new case. In addition to working in Florida, I’ve also enjoyed litigating around the country. I’ve been admitted pro hac vice in several jurisdictions, including Arizona, where I worked on a hailstorm case. and in New Jersey, where I worked on a collapse loss. It’s always fascinating to work in different areas of the country to get a feel for different communities. It really broadens your perspective and can make you a stronger litigator at home. Going back in time, I still remember my first day at Merlin Law Group. It was at an attorney retreat. It was an interesting way to start my career at MLG. I had recently made the transition from another law firm, where I worked primarily in construction law and litigation. That, too, was a change of pace, shifting to property insurance law and representing policyholders. But I was in a position to make the most of my background. Being well-versed in construction proved to be incredibly helpful, and I was able to bring that insight to the team at MLG and to a number of cases even six years on.
to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael. Now two years after Irma (September 2017) and one year after Michael (October 2018), we’ve been able to resolve a lot of claims for people. It hasn’t been easy, but Chip’s team has been at it nonstop and getting well-earned results. My goal and the goal of MLG is to get every claim resolved for clients as quickly as we can. We still have clients who made claims related to Hurricane Michael who have yet to return to their homes. It’s not because homes can’t be rebuilt; its due in large part to the fight put up by insurance carriers. That’s the way they operate, much to the inconvenience of our team, our clients, and people who just want to return to their homes. I’ve learned so much working at MLG and as a part of Chip’s team, this year and in these past six years. I’ve had the chance to see firsthand how Chip handles arguments laid out by the carriers. While it’s always a team effort, when a team is led by example, that’s when you get the best results. I’m driven by the fact that I’m in a place where I learn new things every day. I’ve been practicing law for 11 years and this statement has always been true. We might see similar issues crop up from case to case, especially cases involving hurricanes, but the insurance carriers are always coming up with creative new arguments. It’s up to us to strategize and break through those arguments by coming up with creative solutions ourselves. As 2019 comes to an end, I’m looking forward to the challenges of 2020. I’m looking forward to developing new strategies with our team and continuing to fight for policyholders. There will always be someone to fight for.
I’m driven by the fact that I’m in a place where I learn new things every day.
Looking back on 2019, we’ve had a pretty strong year. We made a lot of progress on claims related
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