Area attorney also serves as insurance underwriter

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
Attorney Adam Kutinsky enjoys watching clients’ eyes light up when he explains there may be a policy of insurance available to cover a potential loss.

In cases like these, it’s expertise Kutinsky brings to the table as a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®), in addition to his legal knowledge. He is a principal of Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook in Detroit, and a member of the firm’s Insurance and Commercial Litigation practice groups.

Commercial Litigation and Insurance Coverage complement one another in many ways. 

“To begin with, most commercial disputes are over money and when you understand insurance coverage, you’re able to evaluate where there may be insurance coverage available that others may not be cognizant of,” he explains. “I’m also able to evaluate coverage issues before litigation with a practical understanding of how litigation would impact a business financially. My insurance expertise also gives me the ability to design insurance programs for businesses that a typical litigator may not necessarily be willing or able to do.

 “There are so many attorneys out there that to be successful, we need to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the group,” he says. “I think there are less than five attorneys in private practice in Michigan that have the CPCU designation, so that makes me unique from other attorneys that I’m competing with for new client relationships.”

The hard-earned CPCU designation took Kutinsky five years of attending classes at night and the successful completion of a series of exams. But the education was well worth the effort.
“I like to say that attorneys look at insurance coverage from a top down approach versus insurance professionals viewing it from a bottom up approach. I bring both perspectives to my work, which makes me uniquely qualified to handle complex insurance coverage matters.”

Named 2012 Person of the Year by the CPCU Society Claims Interest Group at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Kutinsky is a member of the CPCU Society, president of the CPCU Society Greater Detroit Chapter, a member of the CPCU Society Claims Interest Group Committee, a council member of the Insurance and Indemnity Section-State Bar of Michigan, and a member of the Michigan Land Title Association.

As an attorney, he is AV® Peer Review Rated by LexisNexis/Martindale Hubbell, was named a Rising Star in 2011 and 2012 by Super Lawyers, and was recognized in dBusiness Magazine as a Top Lawyer in 2012.

Not bad for someone who landed in this niche by sheer serendipity.

“I would love to say I chose to represent businesses in commercial and insurance disputes, but the fact of the matter is that I was lucky enough to be hired by Kitch, which had the need and I jumped at the opportunity.  Kitch – in particular Greg Drutchas and John Sier – taught me insurance coverage and commercial litigation through very good mentoring,” he says.

That being said, Kutinsky truly enjoys what he does, for several reasons.

 “To begin with, I love my clients! They are smart, hard working and honest people,” he says. “Not every attorney can say they believe in their clients – I can say that I sincerely believe my clients want to do what is right and legally sound. My job is to work with them to accomplish this very reasonable goal. Client relationships are at the heart of the practice of law and some of my relationships go back to the first day I began practicing law. Some of us have been through war and back again, which has cultivated a very deep professional relationship.”

According to Kutinsky, Kitch has some of the most skilled trial attorneys in the country and in specific areas of specialization.

“Courts are favoring alternative dispute resolution so much lately, that there are less and less skilled trial attorneys,” he notes. “Yet, our firm has so many skilled trial attorneys in areas of specialization that clients hire us to appear in other states as lead counsel. And Kitch is an incredible teaching firm, so if you are lucky enough to be hired, you will be mentored into becoming an excellent trial attorney.”

Kutinsky, who has tried multiple cases to favorable verdicts and has successfully argued matters in the Michigan Court of Appeals, focuses on complex commercial disputes, litigation, insurance coverage, real estate, title litigation and creditor’s rights issues, and represents several well known and respected companies of various sizes, including several publicly held companies, as a trial attorney and legal counselor.

His most important role is that of problem solver.

 “My favorite cases are the ones where I delve into a dispute and am able to broker a resolution quickly and inexpensively,” he says. “In the end, the most important thing to a client is results and if I can obtain those results without charging exorbitant fees, I’ve gained a client for life. Of course, there are situations that can’t be resolved quickly for various reasons, and that’s when litigation and trial skills matter.” 

Last October, Kutinsky was featured on The Craig Fahle Show on National Public Radio, WDET, for a discussion of legal issues related to American cities.

“It was fun, and it was great to see Craig in action since I enjoy listening to him when I get the chance,” he says. “I was honored to have been asked to participate in the discussion he had concerning the City of Detroit’s land development issues.”

Three days later, Kutinsky was the featured speaker at the Wayne Law Review Symposium, presenting, “Revisiting the American City: A National Survey of Urban Legal Frameworks.” On March 16, he will be the featured speaker at the State Bar of Michigan Real Property Law Section 2013 Winter Conference, presenting “Recent Developments in Michigan Insurance and Indemnity Law”
A frequent lecturer and author on the subjects of insurance, risk management, title litigation and creditor’s rights, Kutinsky shares his knowledge by teaching students working towards their CPCU designation through a program offered by the CPCU society.

“I’m not a trained teacher, so I hope I do a good job,” he says. “I try to bring some real world experiences to the classroom so students understand how what they read in their textbooks works in real life. There’s a balance to ensuring your students pass an exam while also ensuring they take away something they can use after they get their degree.”

Kutinsky earned his own his J.D. at Wayne State University Law School, after earning a bachelor of arts in political theory and constitutional democracy from Michigan State University’s James Madison College.

“The MSU program was the best possible preparation for law school that I could imagine,” he says. “Political theory is the basis of all laws, so it intrigued me. To this day, I understand how and why society enacted certain laws that govern our actions; every law has a purpose and sometimes the purpose is lost in the case, so understanding why legislation was enacted can assist in evaluating the merits of a case.”

A law career was probably inevitable, since Kutinsky comes from a family of lawyers, each of whom he admires.

“Growing up, these family members were the most significant men in my life other than my father and grandfather – I was always appreciative of their status as self-made successful and happy lawyers,” he says. “Most are still practicing to this day and their contribution to society as attorneys is a large part of who they are as people.  They’ve helped countless people over the years and are men of integrity. It was their example that pulled me towards the practice of law. Once I became an attorney, I had the honor of working with each of them in my early career, and much of how I practice comes from having watched them in action.”

Kutinsky serves on the Advisory Council of The Salvation Army William Booth Legal Aid Clinic.

“I interned at the clinic when I was in law school and the directors asked me to serve on the council a few years ago. They just retired after many years of serving the tri-county area and I’m happy for their many years of service.”

The Farmington Hills native met his wife – now a legal recruiter – when they were both students at Wayne Law.

 “She’s the greatest blessing in my life,” he says. The couple lives in Bloomfield Hills with their two sons, ages 5 and 7.

 “They’re a blast,” Kutinsky says. “I spend most of my time playing and watching sports with my boys. They love Big Ten basketball the best and this has been a great year for us in that area!”
 

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