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April 29, 2024 Profile

Editorial Board Member: Christine Spinella Davis

“I am a self-described ‘insurance nerd,’” says Christine Spinella Davis, the newest member of the editorial board of The Brief. Christine has worked in insurance law for almost 25 years, developing a wide breadth of experience on both sides of the table, practicing as an in-house counsel at several national insurance companies and a policyholder-side coverage attorney. Christine had not always intended to work in insurance law, but once she began working in the field, she knew she had found her niche.

Christine is a native of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and has not strayed far from her roots, at least geographically. She and her family currently live in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside D.C. She went to the University of Maryland for college, majoring in government and politics, and attended The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, in Northeast Washington, D.C., graduating magna cum laude in 1999. While at CUA Law, she was fortunate to have Professor George P. Smith for property law and bioethics courses, as Professor Smith has been a trusted advisor throughout her legal career and has also become a dear friend. After graduation, Christine clerked for the Honorable Ann O’Regan Keary of the District of Columbia Superior Court, who was serving on a Felony I calendar—the cases being tried before her were the most heinous of crimes, homicide and sexual assault. In addition to learning a tremendous amount from the judge as well as lawyering skills from the various attorneys before the court, this experience left Christine with the knowledge that she wanted to be a litigator—at least initially in her legal career.

That is how Christine found herself at the litigation firm Howrey Simon Arnold & White, whose motto at the time was “in court every day.” Although the District of Columbia–based firm no longer exists, the more than 10 years she spent there gave her invaluable litigation experience and the opportunity to work with and learn from attorneys she considered some of the best litigators around. She was a member of the firm’s national insurance recovery group, headed up by then partner Robert Shulman, whose professional mentorship and guidance has been—and continues to be—invaluable to her. Living up to its motto, during her first few years with Howrey Simon, Christine was a member of two successful trial teams for California insurance coverage actions, representing a manufacturer of hardboard siding in cases seeking defense and indemnity for a nationwide class action and subsequent claims-based settlement. Notably, the second trial resulted in one of the largest commercial verdicts in California in 2003. The fact that the trials required Christine to live in San Francisco for six months was certainly an added benefit!

These trial experiences were the bases upon which she continued to build her coverage experience, litigating cases involving commercial general liability, products liability, errors and omissions, directors and officers, and commercial property policies, among others. During her years of practice, Christine handled unique and complex insurance disputes with outstanding insurance groups at two other national law firms, Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips and Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. Much of her practice during that time was focused on drafting motions for summary judgment and other substantive briefs, as, of course, coverage disputes often involve strictly legal issues. Therefore, while she was developing her coverage expertise, she was honing her legal writing skills as well.

Christine also worked as a claims attorney for the insurance company GEICO at its headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland. There, she handled personal auto and umbrella claims and RICO and fraud litigation against medical providers. Through that experience—besides working with an amazing group of colleagues—she gained in-depth knowledge about insurance claims processes and coverage principles pertaining largely to personal and commercial automobile and umbrella policies.

Christine landed at her current position as an assistant general counsel at AmeriTrust Group, Inc. when her former GEICO colleague Allan Turadian reached out to her about the position. Christine has always had a growth mindset and loves opportunities to continue to learn. As part of an in-house coverage unit at AmeriTrust, Christine provides, among other things, coverage opinions and assistance relating to claims arising from various admitted and non-admitted lines of commercial insurance, and frequently works with outside coverage counsel. In her role with AmeriTrust, she brings her own unique coverage knowledge and experiences to the company, while also continuing to grow professionally every day. “I thoroughly enjoy working with so many knowledgeable colleagues as well as outside coverage counsel in my role at AmeriTrust. I learn so much from all of them on almost a daily basis,” Christine says. The fact that this role was fully remote was an added benefit for Christine, who, until the pandemic, always held positions that were fully in office.

Christine has been active in the American Bar Association (ABA), and in particular, the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) for almost 20 years. After serving as the chair of the Tort and Insurance Committee of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) during her last year of YLD eligibility, she transitioned to TIPS through a fellowship program offered for young attorneys, when she was appointed a TIPS Now! Fellow in the Section. Since then, she has taken on several leadership roles within TIPS, including, among others, chair of the Business Litigation Committee, editor in chief of The TIPS Law Journal, and editorial board chair of TortSource, another quarterly TIPS publication. Christine was elected to the Section’s Council in 2019 and served in that role until August 2023. Christine also has held various vice-chair positions with other committees and continues to contribute to TIPS through various leadership roles.

As for her personal life, Christine has been married to her husband, Jonathan, since 2004. While they have been married for almost 20 years, Jon and Christine have actually known each other much longer. They met in second grade (August 1979 to be exact!) and attended high school and college together. They were friends for many years, and although they had lost touch, they reconnected in 2001 when Christine had one of the trials in San Francisco and Jonathan was living in the Bay Area after just completing his medical residency. After the trial was over, Jon decided to look for positions back on the East Coast. The rest is history, as they say. Now, 23 years later, they share two wonderful children—Marisa is an 18-year-old high school senior, who will be attending Ohio State in the fall (Go Buckeyes!); and Matthew is an enthusiastic 15-year-old high school freshman and an active swimmer and water polo player. The family loves traveling together, and in particular cruising, and although their last cruise was pre-pandemic, they are looking forward to finally cruising together again before Marisa leaves for college. Christine can be reached at [email protected]

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