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Press Release

Leading Insurance Recovery Team Joins Blank Rome in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Group expands by more than 100 percent in three years; 70 percent of new lawyers are women

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that Partners Mary Craig Calkins and Helen K. Michael, Of Counsel Daniel H. Rylaarsdam, and Associate Sarah L. Edri, along with additional professional staff, have joined the Firm’s nationally recognized Insurance Recovery group. Helen is based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C., office, and Mary, Dan, and Sarah are based in the Los Angeles office.

With decades of combined experience, the team joins from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP where Helen served as former co-chair of the firm’s insurance recovery practice and Mary led the firm’s West Coast insurance practice. Both Helen and Mary are recognized nationally and internationally for their work handling and litigating all aspects of insurance recovery on behalf of policyholders in complex, high-value matters.

“We are delighted to welcome this highly skilled and talented insurance recovery team to Blank Rome,” said Grant S. Palmer, the Firm’s Managing Partner and CEO. “Mary and Helen are two of the top women attorneys ranked nationally and repeatedly by Chambers USA and have been widely credited by the legal industry as being among the best in their field. Since welcoming more than 100 attorneys from Dickstein Shapiro in 2016, we have been committed to building a premier, market-leading Insurance Recovery practice. Bringing this leading team led by Mary and Helen on board further strengthens our deep bench as well as our ability to deliver the best services possible to our clients.”

In just three years, the Insurance Recovery group has doubled, with more than 70 percent of the additions being women. Earlier this month, the group welcomed Partner Natasha Romagnoli in the New York office.

“The addition of these incredibly experienced insurance recovery professionals further amplifies our efforts to strategically grow and diversify our leading policyholder practice by recruiting the very best legal talent in the country,” said James R. Murray, Chair of Blank Rome’s Insurance Recovery practice group. “Mary and Helen have celebrated careers and unrivaled experience as insurance recovery litigators, and Dan brings more than 15 years of experience in the insurance recovery realm. Mary is the former national co-chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee, and Helen is the former chair of the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Committee’s insurance committee. Both are exceptionally well known in this field, and we are thrilled to add their capabilities to our policyholder group. Importantly, we are even more excited to add long-time colleagues and friends to our team. Mary and Helen, along with Dan and Sarah, are truly the perfect fit for Blank Rome in terms of their service offerings and collegial spirits.”

Throughout the course of her career—whether through litigation, arbitration, or mediation—Mary has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for companies and individuals under directors and officers (“D&O”) liability, management liability, and professional errors and omissions policies. She has also facilitated settlement of some of the most complicated D&O liability issues in the country. Mary has substantial experience in other areas of insurance recovery, including entertainment and intellectual property claims, securities, cyber liabilities, e-commerce and technology claims, labor and employment claims, construction defects, first party property and business interruption losses, FinTech, and broker liability claims. Mary also counsels in-house counsel, senior executives, and managers on how to maximize insurance protection and recovery under primary and excess policies.

Mary served as national president of the prestigious American College of Coverage Counsel from 2016 to 2017, and was honored in May 2019 with the Thomas F. Segalla Service Award in recognition of her dedication and service to the college. Additionally, Mary continues to be a leader in the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Section of Litigation where she has just completed her service as national managing director of the Section of Litigation and will serve on its Council, the Litigation Section’s board of directors. She has also held various leadership positions in the ABA.

“The Insurance Recovery group at Blank Rome is a wonderfully recognized team, ranked and praised nationally for its work focusing on representing policyholders exclusively,” said Ms. Calkins. “The Firm’s reputation was a key factor in deciding to move to Blank Rome, but equally as important was the opportunity to be part of a team of lawyers with whom we have practiced over many years—including Linda Kornfeld and John Heintz. We are eager to reconnect with colleagues that we have known and admired for such a long time.”

As a fierce advocate for policyholders, Helen has helped her clients navigate high-stakes coverage disputes involving every form of dispute resolution in all key coverage areas. These complex disputes include claims against companies and their corporate officers and directors involving alleged securities violations, breach of fiduciary duty and other corporate misconduct, professional liability claims, and cyber liability claims, products liability claims, environmental contamination claims, intellectual property claims, claims involving natural disasters, and a wide variety of class action proceedings. Helen also advises her clients during the policy placement and renewal process to ensure that they obtain insurance appropriate for the principal risks presented by their businesses.

“Beyond joining a top-notch insurance recovery team, Mary and I are equally impressed by Blank Rome’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Ms. Michael. “Certainly, the growth within this group is a testament to that commitment, but as we have met more and more attorneys and professionals across the Firm, you can clearly see the dedication to recruit and retain talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

Mary earned her J.D., cum laude, from Loyola Law School Los Angeles where she also served as production editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. She earned her B.A. from the University of California Los Angeles.

Helen earned her LL.M. from George Washington University Law School, with highest honors, her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law, with honors, and her B.A. from Hampshire College, with honors.

Dan earned his J.D., cum laude, Order of the Coif, from Loyola Law School where he served as the note and comments editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review, and his B.S. from the University of California at Riverside. Sarah earned her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she served as the executive editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change, and her B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.