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June 14, 2023 Profile

Fidelity and Surety Law Committee

Carol Z. Smith

The Fidelity and Surety Law Committee (FSLC) is a robust and active committee of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS). The FSLC’s goal is to function as the preeminent authority and resource on fidelity and surety law in the industry. One aspect of that goal is the advancement of scholarship in the areas of fidelity and surety law in published case law, books, and articles. Another aspect of that goal is the facilitation of the development of professional relationships across the industry and the country. To that end, the FSLC is comprised of surety and fidelity company underwriters and claims professionals, outside counsel, and consultants.

The FSLC leadership structure affords members who want to get more involved in the committee several ways of doing so. The committee structure includes communications, law, and membership divisions. The communications division is staffed with members involved in TIPS content management (contributions to the Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, the FSLC newsletter, and The Brief), book marketing, and technology. The law division is the intellectual backbone of the committee, with members participating in specific subject matter groups including fidelity, construction, performance bonds, payment bonds, miscellaneous bonds, bankruptcy issues, indemnity, extracontractual issues, alternative dispute resolution, underwriting and risk management, and international. These groups develop ideas for educational programs and spearhead the effort of generating articles for the FSLC newsletter, vlogs (short topical videos presented by members), and other publications. The membership division is comprised of groups focusing on diversity, women’s involvement, young professionals (YPS), and new members’ mentoring, involvement, and retention. The membership groups organize and sponsor networking events at the FSLC meetings. At the 2023 Midwinter Conference, the diversity/YPS committees sponsored a Dutch treat dinner and charity poker tournament. The women’s involvement committee held its annual Friday morning breakfast, which becomes more popular every year. The FSLC encourages its members to find an area of interest on one or more of its various committees and become involved.

The FSLC traditionally holds three in-person, stand-alone CLE programs presented largely by members of the committee: a Fall Fidelity Conference; a Midwinter Conference with fidelity, construction, and surety programs; and a Spring Surety Conference. Because of the intersection of the fidelity and surety areas of practice with commercial crime and cyber insurance policies and construction issues and claims, the FSLC programs also address these topics. The FSLC has three upcoming meetings on the calendar:

  • Fall Conference: Ultimate Annotated Crime Insurance, October 5–6, 2023, Boston, MA (program chairs: Michael Keeley, Toni Scott Reed, Robert Flowers, and Megan M. Monogue)
  • Midwinter Conference: January 25–26, 2024, New Orleans, LA
    • The Construction Project: Phases, People, Terms, Paperwork, Processes, January 25 (program chairs: Marilyn Klinger, William Beasley)
    • Navigating Contract Delivery Methods to Avoid the Hurricane of Surety’s Claims, January 26 (program chairs: Scott Olson and Grace Cranley)
    • Geauxing Beyond the Basics in the Big Easy—Parading Nuanced Fidelity and Cyber Issues, January 25–26 (program chairs: Mathew Kalin and Ryan Weeks)
  • Spring Conference: Suretyland: For the Love of Surety, May 23–24, 2024, La Jolla, CA (program chairs: Scott Williams and Gina Lockwood)

The FSLC welcomes other TIPS members to attend its meetings.

Besides the opportunity to present at its programs, the FSLC also offers its members several opportunities to be published. In addition to contributing to the annual survey of law in the Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal and publishing three newsletters per year, the FSLC has published dozens of books. In the last four years, members of the FSLC have published five books: Arbitration and the Surety; Handling Fidelity Bond Claims, Third Edition; Surety Aspects of Bankruptcy Law and Practice; The Law of Commercial Surety and Miscellaneous Bonds, Third Edition; and The Surety’s Indemnity Agreement: Law and Practice, Third Edition. Two additional books will be published in 2023–2024.

Through the scholarly contributions of its members and its programs, the FSLC offers invaluable knowledge about this area of the law, skill development, and networking opportunities. Members will confirm that involvement in this committee has led to greater professional satisfaction and lifetime friendships.

If you are interested in hearing more about the committee or want to join, please contact membership division cochair Amanda Marutzky at [email protected].

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Carol Z. Smith

Dysart Taylor McMonigle Brumitt & Wilcox P.C.

Carol Z. Smith is an experienced litigator with Dysart Taylor McMonigle Brumitt & Wilcox P.C. in Kansas City, Missouri, and a well-known thought leader in matters involving surety, fidelity, and construction claims. She is chair of the TIPS Fidelity and Surety Law Committee.