Cooley professor spearheads insurance program

By Sheila Pursglove Legal News Lisa Sewell DeMoss got her start in law with assistance from Ben Franklin--when at age 12, she opened a law school tuition savings account with a $100 gift from an uncle. "I was the first lawyer among my extended family and at that time, few girls considered law as a career," she says. An associate professor at Cooley Law School in Lansing, DeMoss is Director of the Master's of Law Program in Insurance, a partnership with Olivet College; students participate in Olivet's Insurance MBA curriculum while applying the insurance business learning to related legal challenges. "Cooley law students are incredibly energizing," DeMoss says. "They require me to challenge my own views and knowledge as we work through the legal topics together." Her students also represent a wealth of diversity in terms of background, perspective and world knowledge, something she feels the insurance industry has so far lacked. "I believe students who choose the Insurance Law LL.M degree will be particularly well prepared to qualify for insurance sector jobs now and in the future," she says. Insurance Law is a good field that offers many different opportunities in government, corporate and private practice settings, she says. The legal work spans areas of regulatory/administrative work, claims litigation and transactional activity, and attorneys can further specialize based on insurance product classification to focus on areas such as property and casualty work, life insurance, reinsurance, workers compensation and more. DeMoss got her start on the ladder by earning her bachelor's degree summa cum laude at Michigan State University; her major in multi-disciplinary social science in the Honors College, included courses in philosophy, political science and sociology. DeMoss, who earned her juris doctor at Wayne State University Law School, has always been connected to insurance. "My father was a life insurance marketing vice president and within our home, I was exposed to many wonderful, caring and outgoing insurance professionals. So, I knew somewhat intuitively, that insurers make great clients." After a stint as a law clerk in the Detroit office of Fitzgerald Peters Dakmak and Bruno, DeMoss was hired as an associate in the firm's litigation section and began her career as an insurance defense attorney. DeMoss made partner in 1980. Most of DeMoss' professional career was in the legal department of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. As healh care continue to rise, she noted, employers will transfer greater portions of the cost of their health care programs to employees, causing even employer-sponsored health care plans to become unaffordable to many families. "Although private insurers are adopting innovative reimbursement models on an experimental basis, health care providers appear to be embracing change slowly and apprehensively--with good cause given the magnitude of investment in their medical degrees, and concerns over their independence" she says. "So, in my opinion, it would be an unfortunate lost opportunity as a country if we allow the pendulum of reform to be blocked rather than modifying its course along the continuum of cost, access and quality improvement." DeMoss stays very involved in the healthcare field by serving on the Board of Visitors of the Oakland University School of Nursing. Recently appointed to the City of Rochester Board of Ethics, DeMoss also serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Foundation. "I'm lucky to work with legal colleagues and friends from around the metropolitan area who serve with me on the Detroit Metro Bar Foundation Board," she says. "I've been connected with the Detroit Bar throughout my entire legal career, almost all of which--until I began my work with Cooley--was spent in the City of Detroit." A native of La Jolla, Calif., DeMoss has lived in Alexandria, Va., and Indianapolis, as well as in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Her husband ---whom she met in torts class at Wayne Law--has his own practice in Clinton Township. Their daughter is an associate with a large firm in Detroit; one son is a commercial real estate broker in Chicago; and another son teaches history and government at the International Academy, West Campus. In her leisure time, DeMoss enjoys tennis, golf, sailing, running, spending time with her two dogs, and frequent trips to a second home in Tucson. Published: Thu, Jul 19, 2012

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