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Guardian Life Elevates In-House Veteran After Legal Chief Exits

April 20, 2020, 8:21 PM

The Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America has installed a longtime in-house lawyer to its top legal role following last month’s departure of its former general counsel.

Margherita DiManni is now interim general counsel at Guardian Life, one of the largest U.S. mutual life insurance companies. In March, former legal chief Eric Dinallo left Guardian Life to return to Debevoise & Plimpton, where he chairs the New York-based law firm’s insurance regulatory practice.

DiManni didn’t respond to a request for comment about her new role and a Guardian Life spokeswoman declined to discuss the matter.

A profile for DiManni on Guardian Life’s website states she most recently served as senior vice president, corporate advisory and transactions counsel at Guardian Life, during which time she was responsible for capital markets, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, and other strategic initiatives for the New York-based insurance giant.

Guardian Life’s legal group hired DiManni in 1998 after she worked as a corporate and project finance associate and counsel at Chadbourne & Parke, itself now part of Norton Rose Fulbright. Over the following 22 years she held a variety of jobs of “increasing responsibility” in the insurer’s law, compliance, and government affairs department, overseeing corporate tax, employment, investments, and outsourcing and vendor contracting matters, according to Guardian Life.

In her new role, DiManni is responsible for Guardian Life’s “enterprise-wide legal, compliance, corporate governance, and government affairs functions,” per her official biography page. She serves on several key Guardian Life committees and as a director of Guardian Investors Services LLC, a holding company for the insurer’s fee-based businesses, and Broadshore Capital Partners LLC, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment management affiliate of Guardian Life.

Guardian Life hired Dinallo in October 2017 to replace the retiring Tracy Rich as executive vice president and general counsel. Rich had served as Guardian Life’s top in-house lawyer since 2009 when he succeeded John Peluso. Rich died last year at 67.

Dinallo, a former New York State superintendent of insurance, had previously been a financial institutions partner at Debevoise from 2010 to 2017. Before that stint in private practice, Dinallo served as general counsel for insurance broker Willis Group Holdings plc and as a managing director and global head of regulatory affairs at Morgan Stanley.

In an interview last month with Bloomberg News, Dinallo said insurers and companies across the U.S. will soon be looking for national regulatory and legislative guidance on business interruption issues arising out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Other Insurance Additions

DiManni is the latest in a series of notable insurance industry in-house appointments since early March.

  • Bloomberg Law noted earlier this month the April 1 retirement of Hanover Insurance Group Inc.’s longtime general counsel J. Kendall Huber, who was succeeded by Dennis Kerrigan. Worcester, Mass.-based Hanover recently hired Kerrigan as deputy general counsel after he spent a decade as legal chief for the North American unit of Swiss insurance company Zurich Insurance Group Ltd.
  • Apollo Insurance Solutions Ltd., a Vancouver, Canada-based company that owns the Apollo Exchange, Canada’s largest online insurance marketplace, announced April 17 its addition of Joel Schuster as COO and general counsel. Schuster most recently served as chief legal officer and corporate secretary for Avigilon Corp., a video surveillance software and hardware company bought by Motorola Solutions Inc. in 2018.
  • Ryan Specialty Group LLC, a Chicago-based insurance services outfit, announced March 13 that it had promoted senior vice president and insurance services senior counsel Mark Katz to executive vice president and general counsel. Katz, a former partner at insurance law firm Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass in New York, initially joined Ryan’s in-house team in February 2019.
  • Kensington Vanguard National Land Services LLC, one of the largest national title insurance agencies in the U.S., announced March 6 its hire of Emilia Bechrakis Serhant as a vice president of its business development division. Serhant, a former maritime litigator at Norton Rose Fulbright who once served as general counsel for a Greek shipping company, was most recently a senior sales representative at Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. She can also be seen on television alongside her husband, Ryan Serhant, a real estate broker and star of Bravo reality show “Million Dollar Listing.”
  • Lloyd’s of London Ltd. disclosed March 3 its promotion of deputy U.S. general counsel Sabrina Miesowitz to replace Joseph Gunset as general counsel of the insurance marketplace’s Lloyd’s America unit upon his retirement late last month. New Orleans-based law firm McGlinchey Stafford announced April 1 that Gunset joined its New York office as of counsel in its insurance practice.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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