Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 25, 2022

Brown brings heat, protection

Hot icebreaker leads to meatier topic of coverage

Rob Brown is the owner of Brown Professional Insurers, an attorney malpractice insurance brokerage that sponsors the Chattanooga Bar Association. - Photo by Alex McMahan

As Brown Professional Insurers owner Rob Brown met with attorneys at his vendor booth at the Chattanooga Bar Association’s annual meeting earlier this month, he offered the hottest item at the event for free.

It wasn’t the malpractice insurance his company sells. And it wasn’t a voucher for a discount.

It was bottles of Lawyer’s Breath Hot Sauce. As Brown set up his booth, he placed a few dozen of the red, yellow and green bottles on his table and turned the mustachioed mascot forward to greet attorneys as they entered the lobby of the Silver Ballroom in The Read House.

By the end of the meeting, he was nearly out of bottles.

Thankfully, Brown says, several of the attorneys laughed at the joke – which was something about someone figuring out how to bottle hot air. “It seemed to be a hit,” Brown says with a laugh.

Brown did talk with attorneys about what he says was the second hottest item at the meeting – the aforementioned malpractice insurance.

Based out of Knoxville, Brown specializes in providing malpractice insurance to solo practitioners and firms throughout Tennessee.

As an insurance broker, Brown sells malpractice insurance on behalf of carriers across the state. Since he has ties with virtually every carrier in Tennessee, he says he’s able to locate the lowest prices for his clients.

“I like to say, ‘We shop; you save.’”

Brown is using the royal form of the word “we.” Although he has a small staff that assists him, he’s spent the last 12 years scouring the state for what he calls iron clad and affordable insurance policies on his own.

“I do the legwork so my customers can concentrate on the practice of law,” Brown says. “Going through a broker can be less expensive than choosing a carrier on your own. A first-year policy could cost less than $1,000.”

Like any salesman worth his salt, Brown pulls a few scenarios that underscore the need for his product out of his proverbial briefcase. Chief among these, he says, is an attorney missing a statute of limitations.

“Let’s say an attorney is handling a personal injury matter and misses a filing date. If that happens, then their client might not have a case, in which case the lawyer could be in hot water.

“That’s where we step in. The carriers I represent help take care of those matters.”

Another problem area for attorneys is divorces, Brown says, largely because few clients walk away happy.

“You’re dealing with disgruntlement on both sides, so a lot of ... [Board of Professional Responsibility] issues pop up. Attorneys have to report those matters to their insurance carrier, which can defend them.”

One relatively new issue that’s related to cybersecurity can create a four-alarm fire for an attorney or law firm, Brown adds.

He’s referring to social engineering, which involves manipulating targets into providing confidential information or money. Examples include an email that appears to be from a trusted source but actually contains links to malware or downloads that install malicious software on the user’s computer.

Once a victim has been baited, the results can be disastrous, Brown says.

“A law firm could send money to a source that looks legitimate without knowing it’s being scammed.”

Fraud insurance coverage could help to cover the firm’s losses, Brown adds.

Although Brown is chock full of nightmare scenarios he claims his product could mitigate, he says one particular group has always been a hard sell: criminal defense lawyers.

“Many of them have a solo practice and do nothing but criminal law. They feel like they don’t need it since they often defend clients who are sent to prison. But malpractice insurance would actually be cheaper for them.”

Brown Professional Insurers is more than a sales gig for its namesake, it’s also a business Brown is proud to have developed and ushered to success.

After growing up in Ohio, where he studied psychology and business at Wright State University, Brown made his way to Tampa, Florida, where he worked for an insurance company named (ironically, he says) Brown & Brown.

While there, he identified an underserved niche in attorney malpractice insurance.

Although Brown says he loved the beach life, he was eager to experience all four seasons and wanted to raise his daughter in a more relaxed environment. He had visited Tennessee several times for work and vacationed around Norris Lake near Knoxville, and decided he liked the area enough to call it home.

Brown enjoys traveling across the state to speak with attorneys about malpractice insurance. In particular, his company’s role as a sponsor of the Chattanooga Bar Association brings him to the Scenic City to attend events such as the bar’s annual meeting.

“I enjoy interacting with attorneys and law firms and the people that support them,” Brown says. “It gives my work an intellectual aspect because I’m talking with smart people who share a lot of interesting stories.”

With the CBA planning several major events in 2022 – including a 125th anniversary celebration later this year – chances are Brown will be in town again.

And he just might bring a few bottles of his popular hot sauce.