Get to know Fee Langstone: Russell Stewart

How long have you been practicing law and how long have you been working at FL/ Jones Fee?

I started in 1997 (so it is 20 years this year!).  After 2 years in general commercial litigation in a major firm in Auckland, I moved to Sydney.  Although I initially planned to only stay a few years in Sydney, I ended up there for over 10 years – where I got my first real taste for professional indemnity insurance.  I moved back to Auckland with my family (Kiwi wife and two girls born in Sydney) in 2010.  I have now been with Jones Fee/Fee Langstone coming up 7 years. 

You have spent some time overseas in New South Wales, Australia, how is insurance law different from the work you were doing there?

I haven’t found it too different.  Although, one difference I have found is in relation to solicitors professional indemnity insurance.  In New South Wales, it is mandatory for solicitors to have insurance.  This has two consequences – the insurance policy is “government approved” and is less commercial than the policies in New Zealand, and claimants know there is always an insurer, so will often bring claims in the expectation that the solicitor’s insurer will settle (although this is certainly not always the case).

What do you think sets FL apart from other firms?

Fee Langstone is a boutique insurance and litigation specialist firm with a depth of experience and talent.  We are effectively bigger than most litigation departments in the large full service firms – so that makes us unique and able to provide quality advice with commercial clarity on a wide range of issues.

“Why did you decide to work in the insurance industry?”

I didn’t so much decide, but more fell into the insurance industry.  When I moved to Sydney, I was lucky to work for one of the few firms that were on the panel of external lawyers for the solicitors professional indemnity insurer.  This formed the majority of my work – but then I continued to do other professional negligence work for other insurers.  It then seemed like a natural move to Jones Fee/Fee Langstone when I moved back to Auckland.   

If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?

Flying – I love planes and at one time I wanted to be a commercial airline pilot.