Merlin Law Group - November 2019

813.229.1000 • M erlin L aw G roup.com

november 2019

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The Adjuster’s Advocate

M y background with Merlin Law Group is a little different from many of the attorneys who work here. I started in 2010 as a law clerk over the summers and winters before and during law school. After I graduated from law school in 2013, I was hired as a full-time attorney in the Tampa, Florida, office. My husband, Corey Harris, is also an attorney with MLG, and he was the first attorney hired by Merlin Law right out of law school. I was the third law school hire. I started with Merlin shortly after Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey. At the time, I was working directly with Chip Merlin. He encouraged me to take both the Florida and New Jersey bar exams, which I did within a matter of days of one another. Chip pushed me to continue taking bar exams, and I’m now licensed in six states: Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Colorado. I practiced almost exclusively in New Jersey following Superstorm Sandy but refocused on Florida around the time Hurricane Irma hit in September 2017. I now manage a team in the Tampa office, and we are predominantly focused on hurricane cases from both Hurricane Irma and Michael. That said, we also have cases ranging from employee theft losses to septic system backups, and pretty much anything you can imagine in between. Going back in time, so much of my career path was shaped by my dad, who is an independent adjuster. Surprisingly, my dad was my introduction to Merlin Law Group. He adjusted a claim for a former MLG attorney and asked if Merlin hired interns. Fast forward nine years, and I’m still here! My very first job in the “insurance industry” was at 10 years old. My dad, who was an insurance company adjuster at the time, paid me $5 an hour to transfer claim information from a computer print-out to a manila folder, organize claim documents in the folder, and then tape Polaroid photos to a photo sheet. This was obviously well before the digital era. It wasn’t particularly exciting

work for a 10-year-old, but it laid the foundation for what was to come.

It All Started With One Question My Journey to Merlin Law Group

Growing up in Missouri, I recall accompanying my dad on inspections. I remember walking through a total fire loss and taking photographs of areas my dad pointed out to me. I also recall driving through a completely devastated town following an F2 tornado. Seeing that level of destruction is something I’ll never forget. My dad wasn’t the only adjuster in the family. I have several uncles and cousins who work or have worked for insurance companies or as adjusters in varying capacities. Even my brother got in on the “family business” for a time. The difference is that I’m the only one in the family who pursued a career representing the policyholder. But in working with the policyholders, I came to the job with a different perspective after having watched and worked with my dad. Some attorneys look at the insurance company and see the enemy. I see the people behind the scenes working to resolve a claim. There are a lot of good people, and sometimes they don’t have the information they need to make the “right” call on a claim. I’m grateful to have gained that kind of perspective and that I was able to bring it to the work I do with MLG. As we enter the Thanksgiving season, I’m reflecting on the many things I’m grateful for, personally and professionally. I’m grateful that my dad asked that all-important question: Does MLG hire interns? I’m grateful to Chip for giving me that opportunity and the opportunities that followed. I’m grateful I’m in a place where I can lead my own team. But beyond the workplace, I’m grateful for my family. I have a 5-month-old baby boy, a loving husband, and a stubborn but sweet English bulldog. It doesn’t get much better than that! –Ashley Harris

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