Drawn to persuasive writing and debate, Day Pitney partner Jonathan Zelig knew at an early age he wanted to be a litigator. His first hands-on experience arguing a case was during his study at Yale Law School.
At a clinic, Zelig provided legal help for unrepresented litigants in landlord-tenant disputes. "That really piqued my interest in how important effective advocacy can be in the outcome of a client's case," Zelig said.
A member of Day Pitney's Insurance and Reinsurance Disputes practice, Zelig's early legal advocacy experience provided a foundation in client service that remains at the heart of his practice today, representing insurers and other large companies in complex litigation and arbitration proceedings. Over the past several years, he's guided companies through a range of coverage and reinsurance disputes.
Working closely with in-house counsel, Zelig advises corporate clients to help them resolve complex business and contract issues. "I consider myself first and foremost a litigator, able to effectively and efficiently litigate a dispute in court or in arbitration from start to finish," Zelig said, "but the advisory portion is an important part of the practice, as our first goal is often to avoid litigation."
Zelig finds the problems that come up in insurance disputes to be particularly engaging and intellectually stimulating, and he regularly works in cutting-edge areas. For instance, he advises clients on issues regarding opioids and e-cigarettes, providing strategies to address potential coverage disputes involving manufacturers and distributors of these products. He also advises clients on coverage issues concerning data privacy, intellectual property, and healthcare regulatory compliance. "These are problems that a lot of insurance companies are going to be facing in the next decade," Zelig said.
Howard Page, vice president of assumed claims, Resolute Management Services Ltd., is a client who appreciates how Zelig is always looking one step ahead. "He's very smart and exceedingly enthusiastic, which is infectious," Page said.
One quality that stands out is Zelig's straightforward, affable communication style. "Jonathan recently did some training for us in our department," Page said. "He was able to explain some comparatively complex issues in a way that people at all levels could understand, and he kept the presentation engaging."
Page was especially impressed by Zelig in a recent case, when Zelig presented testimony from an expert witness on a particularly technical and complex issue. "He spent hours working with the witness to make sure the testimony was sharp and well explained," Page said.
Outside of work, Zelig enjoys spending time with his family. He also serves on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Insurance and Reinsurance Bar Association.