A Legal Department is Only as Good as its People

Through hard work and professionalism, global general counsel Domenick Di Cicco and his team of legal experts have positioned themselves as Cunningham Lindsey’s trusted advisors

Domenick Di Cicco, Cunningham Lindsey

Time is usually not on Domenick Di Cicco’s side. As the global general counsel for Cunningham Lindsey, Di Cicco manages fifteen professionals who handle all legal representation for the loss adjusting, claims management, and risk solutions firm. The corporation has more than six thousand employees and offices in more than sixty countries. Accordingly, Di Cicco and his team are often racing against the clock.

“The legal function is a small group at a global company that isn’t quite big enough to have a large staff but still demands a lot to comply with the needs of the business,” Di Cicco says. “My team is very professional, thorough, hard-working, and focused on solutions. You are only as good as your people, and I am very fortunate to have great people.”

To keep up with the heavy workload, Di Cicco sets clear expectations and holds his team accountable. He helps them succeed by making sure that they have the tools and skills they need for the job. Di Cicco delegates tasks and puts a premium on preserving effort and energy. For instance, he prefers to exchange information over the phone rather than digitally.

“Once I trust my staff and I feel confident that I have the right people in place, I give them a lot of responsibility,” Di Cicco says. “I also try to guide the other executives in the firm in how best to communicate with the legal department. I tell them that if they have a question that isn’t too technical, it is much more efficient to just pick up the phone and call me rather than send an email.”

Di Cicco can make do with a lean staff, but more resources may be right around the corner. As part of the M&A team, Di Cicco and his team worked hard to sell the company to Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., a risk and benefits solutions provider. Under the Sedgwick umbrella, Cunningham Lindsey can offer end-to-end service solutions to its international roster of clients.

“The combined enterprise will be able to offer its clients unparalleled service and geographic reach,” Di Cicco says. “Innovation will give us incredible advantage, and our competitors will have to catch up with us.”

Di Cicco joined Cunningham Lindsey in June 2015 after three years as the head of litigation management at AIG. He has held several global roles, including general counsel, leadership, and strategy posts at Xchanging, CNA Insurance, Zurich Financial Services, and Alexander Gallo Holdings. He says he was attracted to the global aspect of the general counsel position at Cunningham Lindsey. Furthermore, he was excited to have the opportunity to work with people he had interacted with throughout his career.

“When I came to Cunningham Lindsey, it was a company that needed to realize its full potential, but it wasn’t quite there yet. I wanted to help do that,” Di Cicco says. “I also find it very exciting to deal with different markets, regulations and jurisdictions.”

Initially, the role was M&A focused. As the business needs changed, so too did the role of the general counsel. Although the enterprise’s legal issues and challenges are now his primary domain, Di Cicco emphasizes how important it is that he and his team are knowledgeable about the business operations at Cunningham Lindsey. He says he starts all of his department meetings with a business-focused discussion that covers the economic environment, opportunities, and strategies.

“In my opinion, understanding the business on a deep level is the only way to help the company succeed in both solving legal issues that arise and executing objectives,” Di Cicco says. “I’d like my team to be more deeply integrated into the businesses. I’d like certain people to specialize in specific geographic regions. The company is growing enough that this will happen soon.”

Di Cicco says his role covers the traditional duties of a general counsel, such as contract review, litigation management, corporate governance, and compliance. He also has some atypical responsibilities, though, including being involved in—and having influence over—business decisions, such as mergers and acquisitions. Overseeing the human resources function, in conjunction with the head of the department, is another part of the job.

“I thrive on the variety of my job,” Di Cicco says. “It is intellectually challenging, and it doesn’t get stale. It has been educational and rewarding for me to get to see the business at a much more granular level than I was able to when I worked at larger companies.”

While Di Cicco continues to grow as a legal and business advisor, he makes it a point to give back to the next generation of attorneys. He spearheaded a legal internship program at Cunningham Lindsey to give law school students exposure to the many diverse areas of corporate law. He also serves as a mentor to his staff members. Di Cicco says understanding his mentees’ interests, expectations, and goals are key to being effective.

“I am at the stage in my career where I’ve acquired a lot of experience and skills,” Di Cicco says. “I feel obligated to help develop the upcoming professionals. My goal is to expand their horizons and figure out ways to help them gain more confidence where they have weaknesses. Sometimes that could be taking a class or watching a video. I’ll even bring them to meetings with me to show them it isn’t as scary as it might seem.”

Di Cicco says the most valuable piece of advice that he can pass on to his younger colleagues is this: “You are going to make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn. How you handle challenges and grow from them is what matters,” he says. “You gain wisdom as you gain experience. I’ve learned to be calm and to understand that nothing is catastrophic. There is always a solution.”

Photo: Fred Glasser

Cunningham Lindsey is a global loss adjusting, claims, management, and risk solutions firm with a one hundred year track record. On a daily basis Domenick Di Cicco and everyone at Cunningham Lindsey work with corporations and individuals who find themselves in highly stressful situations. No matter how complex, stressful, or critical the undertaking, the attorneys of Cozen O’Connor stand ready to support the legal needs of Cunningham Lindsey and its clients. We are aimed at one simple goal: getting the right result for our clients.