A day in the life of a BN insurance lawyer - Navjeet Tut
Meet Navjeet Tut. She is a Special Counsel in Barry Nilsson’s Insurance and Health team.
Navjeet commenced her legal career in Cairns, practising in commercial law before moving into commercial litigation and family law. She moved to Sydney nine years ago and has practised exclusively in insurance law since then. She is an experienced insurance litigator and has acted for a range of clients including Australian and international insurers, corporate self-insureds, and public authorities.
We asked Navjeet about her life as an insurance lawyer, why she chose this area of practice, and whether insurance law is as dry as it sounds.
Why did you choose insurance law?
When I was studying law, I thought I was going to be a commercial lawyer. So, when I finished University I started working in that area, but quickly I found it to be very repetitive and purely transactional.
I never contemplated being an insurance lawyer but after realising that commercial law wasn’t for me, I stumbled into the area and immediately found it appealing as the subject matter we deal with changes quite a lot. For example, one day I might be dealing with a construction company, and the next day my client is a sporting organisation or shopping centre. Working with these commercially astute clients allows me to take a pragmatic approach to my practice, ensuring matters are resolved in an expedited manner where possible.
In theory, insurance law seems bland and unstimulating, but in reality it is a fascinating and varied area of law.
What does a day in the life of an insurance lawyer look like?
There is no typical day in the office, but I do have phone calls and plenty of emails in my day. No lawyer can avoid that! In one week I could be involved in an informal settlement conference, writing an advice or two, and meeting clients. If you are like me, it also involves a good chat with the rest of the office.
BN has embraced hybrid working so I am able to work both in the office and at home. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought this would be possible as a lawyer, but I’ve embraced the flexibility. I find it so refreshing and it helps me to prioritise my busy work day.
Why did you choose to work at BN?
A respected friend worked at BN. They spoke very highly of the firm and its culture and suggested I would be a good fit. They were right given I’ve been here for over 4 years!
The firm provides a range of initiatives that demonstrate that they care about their employees. For example, during lockdown the People & Culture team contacted every single staff member (that’s over 300 people) to check up on us. Also during lockdown, to maintain connection and social interaction, BN organised activities like an online cocktail making classes and the cocktail kits were posted to us in advance.
We have a ‘dress for your day’ policy at BN which I love. So if I am not seeing clients, you will see me wearing jeans in the office. BN manages to strike the right balance between maintaining a collegial and relaxed culture while still having our clients’ interests at the heart of everything we do.
Another thing BN does well is focus on skill progression and career advancement. I started at BN as a Senior Associate in 2018 and was recently promoted to Special Counsel. Once the firm knows your aspirations, it provides the necessary support to help you achieve them. One example of this is a secondment opportunity I undertook in London with a Lloyds syndicate insurer. It gave me some incredible insight and understanding into the London market and how it works, as well as an appreciation of the internal pressures our clients face.
BN has also exposed me to new and exciting activities. BN recently hosted, with Aon and Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, a comedy night as part of the 2022 Dive In Festival. The topic was micro-aggressions in the workplace. I had the opportunity to moderate the event, and it was a fun evening that discussed an important issue in a light-hearted way. The Dive In Festival is a global movement to support the development of inclusive workplace cultures in the insurance industry.
What are some trends in insurance law you are seeing?
I feel that concussion in sports (and in particular chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is likely to become an issue in the next five or so years.
While sporting organisations, including at the junior levels, are now more aware of the effects of concussions on a person, there’s a lot more that can be done on this issue.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Whenever I can, I love to travel. Prior to COVID, I travelled at every opportunity I could! I was fortunate to travel just before the pandemic hit. In December 2019 I went to Budapest, Vienna and Prague. Since the borders re-opened I haven’t had a chance to go overseas, but I am hoping to plan something for next year.