Honors and Awards

Craig R. Culbertson and Seth D. Lamden Named 2022 Midwest Trailblazers by The American Lawyer

The American Lawyer

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that Craig R. Culbertson, senior counsel in the firm's Finance practice group, and Seth D. Lamden, partner in the firm's Insurance Recovery practice group, have been named 2022 Midwest Trailblazers by The American Lawyer

This supplement honors legal professionals in the Midwest of the United States (defined by The American Lawyer as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oho, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) who are agents of change in their respective practice areas and have moved the needle in the legal industry.

Craig's and Seth's 2022 Midwest Trailblazer honoree profiles are available here and copied in full below.


Craig R. Culbertson, Blank Rome LLP

What was the genesis of the idea/path that has made you a trailblazer?
Craig Culbertson’s 42-year legal career has spanned Jenner & Block (Executive Committee member, Corporate/Finance Department co-chair), McGuire Woods (Executive Committee member, Chicago Office Managing Partner), and Blank Rome (Partner). Since the 1990s, Craig also has been directly employed as General Counsel of some of these firms’ clients. At first, Craig was one of few firm partners in this dual role, a practice that has since become more frequent.

What sort of change has resulted from the concept?
A law firm partner also serving as a client’s General Counsel benefits the client: it allows for integration into the client’s senior management. In Craig’s case, he became part of the company-clients’ ongoing senior management teams, and became deeply involved in long-term strategy and operational aspects of each client’s businesses. Such integration would have been very difficult, if not impossible, without the formalized dual role, through which the clients employed and enjoyed the committed services of the General Counsel they most wanted – Craig – who could also continue his role as a senior partner in the law firm with other, “non-dual” client relationships.

What bearing will this have on the future?
Craig would tell you today that this “dual” role is not for every attorney and not for every law firm or company client. The position requires an attorney who is high-energy, committed, and perfectly comfortable continually “changing hats.” The company client must have a high comfort level with the attorney’s integrity and commitment, since the attorney will have other clients. And the law firm must be comfortable and flexible with such matters as compensation, since the attorney will not, in most cases, bill the client for his or her time worked, but will instead be directly compensated by the client.

To download Craig’s published profile, please click here.


Seth D. Lamden, Blank Rome LLP

What was the genesis of the idea/path that has made you a trailblazer?
As a first-year attorney, I was assigned to a case where a manufacturer was looking to decades-old insurance policies to cover liability for historic operational pollution. I was fascinated with the arguments that policyholder attorneys had developed to get coverage under old policies. Creative arguments like those sparked my interest in practicing insurance law, and my passion for helping policyholders understand and enforce their rights to insurance coverage grew as I came to realize how often policyholders unknowingly forgo coverage after being wrongly told that their claims are not covered.

What sort of change has resulted from the concept?
My entire career has focused on helping policyholders avoid and resolve insurance disputes. My matters have led me to power plants, factories, solar fields, and a half-built psychiatric hospital. I have helped resolve insurance disputes arising out of everything from consumer class actions involving leaky sippy cups and combustible refrigerators, to a 54,000-gallon oil spill caused by a careless tree trimmer, to the complete destruction of a state park following the catastrophic breach of a one-billion-gallon hydroelectric reservoir. The common trait shared by most of my clients is that they are in an unforeseen situation that is disrupting their business and made worse by an insurance dispute.

What bearing will this have on the future?
As insurance products evolve to address emerging risks, commercial policyholders facing large, complex losses will continue to need legal assistance to extract the most value from their policies. Liability insurers will be required to address claims arising out of “forever chemicals” (PFAS) and microplastics. Climate-related risks will bring transformative change to the property insurance market. In the shorter term, increased frequency and severity of securities claims will continue to drive changes in the directors & officers insurance market.

To download Seth’s published profile, please click here.