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Baker named to chair in insurance law
August 29, 1997

Tom Baker has been appointed the first holder of the Connecticut Mutual endowed chair in insurance law and director of the Insurance Law Center.

Baker, who joined the Law School July 1, will teach courses on principles of insurance and insurance regulation for JD students.

"The goal of the center," Baker says, "is to assure that if someone anywhere in the world thinks about insurance law, they think of the University of Connecticut. And we are going to achieve that."

Baker credits the vision of the center to Robert Googins, former insurance executive and state insurance commissioner, an adjunct faculty member and founding director of the center.

The center will comprise three components: insurance law courses, including a master's degree program expected to begin next year; publications and outreach, including a one-week insurance law institute for lawyers from across the country and the student-run Connecticut Insurance Law Journal; and research.

Baker's own research includes a study of the effect of liability insurance on lawyers' behavior in cases involving potential punitive damages and an analysis of insurance claims after Hurricane Andrew.

He says he was attracted to insurance law because "in our capitalist society insurance is a real safety net; it's how we make sure the lucky take care of the unlucky, the way we reallocate resources to the unfortunate in our society.

"If that's the idea of insurance," he adds, "then it's important to analyze whether that's really happening."

Baker says he will build on the ties between the law school and the Hartford insurance community, and also develop links with other important constituencies, including plaintiffs' lawyers involved in an adversarial relationship with the insurance industry. "As a neutral research institution we should reach out to everybody," he says.

Baker earned his bachelor's degree and J.D., both magna cum laude, from Harvard University.

He has been an associate professor at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Florida, since 1992, and last year was a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He is a member of the advisory committee of the Insurance Law Anthology, the Law and Society Association, the American Association of Law Schools, and the American Bar Association. He also has been admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In 1986-87 he served as law clerk to the Hon. Juan R. Torruella, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

From 1987-91, Baker was an associate of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., handling civil litigation with a focus on insurance coverage disputes, and in 1991-92, he served as associate counsel investigating the Iran-Contra affair.

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu