Photograph: Eagle statue outside law school.

Spring 2012 Practitioners in Residence

Photograph: John Collins.Washburn Law alumnus John Collins, ’91, and J. Brent Hooker shared their expertise with law students in Professor Amy Deen Westbrook’s Business Associations and Financial Institutions Regulation classes as the Spring 2012 Business and Transactional Law Center Practitioners in Residence.

Collins, who is based in New York, has been with American Express, one of the largest card insurers, for the past eight years, where he is vice president and senior insurance counsel. Hooker, who is based in Santiago, Chile, is general counsel for ACE Latin America, a large international insurance and reinsurance company, where he has regional oversight of all legal issues connected with ACE Group’s Latin American operations.

Collins and Hooker often work together on transactions between their respective companies and prepared presentations to coincide with topics being discussed in each class. Collins and Hooker shared their extensive knowledge with students in the Business Associations class discussing corporate groups, including parent companies, subsidiaries and affiliates, and how businesses manage their different sectors. They also explained how their two employers, American Express and Ace Insurance, handle transactions between each other. Students in Financial Institutions Regulation learned about the business of insurance and how it is regulated both in the U.S. and internationally.

Students benefitted from the practitioners’ experiences working as in-house counsel for large corporations, learning about the importance of business relationships, especially those between attorneys when they work on multiple transactions. Students also gained knowledge of cutting-edge issues, including director and officer insurance matters, due diligence concerns, parent-subsidiary transactions, insurable interest determinations, state regulation of insurance issues, and what it means to underwrite a risk.

Ryan Smith, a third-year student, was one of several Washburn Law students who had the opportunity to meet with Collins and Hooker over lunch or dinner to glean additional information from the seasoned attorneys. “We had a fantastic time,” Smith remarked. He said the conversation included how law school has changed since Collins and Hooker attended, their winding career paths and how they both ended up in the international re-insurance business in positions where their primary roles are deal-making and facilitating. “We learned about the ups and downs of regular international travel and living internationally,” Smith reported. Collins and Hooker also shared with the students the role of a lawyer working as in-house counsel and its contrasts to a traditional law firm experience.

Prior to joining American Express in 2007, Collins served as general counsel for Franklin Credit Management Corporation from 2004 to 2007, and as an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of the New York-based law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP from 1997 to 2004. He was an associate in the Washington D.C., office of the Kansas City, Mo.-based law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker from 1991 to 1997.

Hooker has more than 11 years of experience as an attorney at ACE working on international insurance matters. Before joining ACE in 1999, he served as external legal counsel for a variety of corporate clients within and outside the insurance industry in the United States.