Alex Brown

Partner at Shapiro, Sher, Guinot & Sandler

Maryland attorney Alex Brown is an insurance law expert with more than two decades of experience in the field. He is currently a partner at the firm Shapiro, Sher, Guinot & Sandler, P.A., where he heads its insurance law practice.

In this position, Brown has secured a number of substantial judgments and jury verdicts for clients, including insurance brokers and other financial services providers, insured corporations, and insurance companies.

Outside the courtroom, Brown represents his firm’s clients in investigations, insurance-related transactions, and regulatory proceedings. He also advises clients on complex matters related to insurance, such as commercial transactions, as well as risk management policies and commercial insurance portfolios. He has extensive expertise in forming and managing insurance entities, including risk retention groups and captives.

Alex Brown has significant public service experience. He served as an Assistant Attorney General and later as Senior Counsel with the Maryland Insurance Administration, where he represented the Maryland Insurance Commissioner in civil and regulatory matters.

Brown’s private practice experience includes a stint as senior associate with Venable LLP and a term as partner with Silverman|Thompson|Slutkin|White, where he was chairman of the Litigation practice.

Over the course of his career in insurance law, he has secured multiple multimillion-dollar jury awards and judgments and successfully defended clients in high-stakes civil suits. Career highlights include securing a $7 million jury verdict as first chair in a complicated insurance subrogation matter and a $1.4 million jury verdict from a large financial services provider, and successfully defending a security client in a $40 million civil suit.

Brown is currently an A.M. Best Client Recommended Attorney and was cited in Maryland Super Lawyers in 2014 and 2015. He has been a Chambers USA member since 2019, is a current member of the International Association of Defense Counsel, and sits on two committees of the Defense Research Institute Committees.

Alex Brown lives in the Baltimore area with his family. Outside of work, he enjoys supporting local community organizations devoted to helping the less fortunate, including Maryland Food Bank, Young Life Baltimore City, Grace Fellowship Church, and Helping Up Mission.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

I made a business decision to focus on insurance law. Insurance is ubiquitous and fundamental to virtually all aspects of our lives. Fortunately, I have always found the complex issues arising from insurance disputes frequently fascinating, almost always interesting, and often very meaningful.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I begin each workday with a Bible reading, followed by journaling and prayer. I have found that I look forward to this time more than any other. It is a time to be alone with God, contemplate His wisdom, and reaffirm my gratitude for all of the blessings He has given me, including my law practice. The enormous stresses of an active litigation practice that fill the rest of my day, which include court hearings, client meetings, meetings with my team and opposing counsel, and drafting court briefs, are far easier to manage, and are in fact a blessing, when viewed through the lens of gratitude for my truly enjoyable career.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I love the intellectual challenge of litigation: Two smart lawyers doing everything they can to convince a judge that their client is right, and the adversary is wrong. I truly enjoy taking the time to break arguments down into component parts and brainstorming about the many different ways we might fit the pieces together for the judge in an entertaining and persuasive way. I try to think of the best way to tell a compelling story to the judge. Everyone loves listening to stories.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The COVID pandemic has forced businesses, including law firms, to reassess the culture and environment in which their employees work. With current technology, my colleagues and I can do most of our substantive work from our home offices. Since March 2019, my team and I have enjoyed the efficiencies of working from home while learning to make time to be in the office together to meaningfully develop our office culture. I think we now make better use of our time at home and in the office, and our quality of life has improved.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Listening. I have forced myself to be the best listener I can be, particularly with my clients. I am fortunate to have developed a deeply loyal client base. I think one of the key drivers of that loyalty is that my clients know that I appreciate that their problems are significant to them. When they need me, I take the time to hear everything they are saying and I ask probing questions to truly understand not only their problems, but also their proposed solutions and the goals they are trying to achieve. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are as a lawyer if you are trying to solve the wrong problem.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Enjoy the ride. The first decade or so of my career, I was so ambitious and focused on my goals that I think I missed a lot of the enjoyable aspects of being a young lawyer. If I could go back, I would be more present in the moment.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

It is critical to develop personal relationships with people who have little in common with you.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Make an emotional investment in the success of your clients. My clients know that no one cares more about their success in the matters I handle than I do. I suffer setbacks and disappointments along with my clients. Whatever the outcome of a case, my clients know that we gave everything we reasonably could to achieve the right outcome.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

It begins with listening and must be maintained through high-quality communication. After my clients explain their problem, many are surprised when I spend as much, if not more, time discussing what they hope to achieve. How can we start with the problem and get to a solution they are excited about, or at least can live with? Once we set our goals, there is no substitute for hard work. I communicate with my clients consistently so that they see all of the steps we take to achieve their goal.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I had a period in my career where I became too emotionally invested in my clients’ success. I was too focused on achieving the results they wanted at any and all costs. My faith has helped me keep all of the very important issues that I deal with in my practice in proper perspective.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have always thought that a business that aggregates insurance policies and provides them to consumers and businesses would have value. Many, if not most, policyholders do not receive a full copy of the policy they purchase from their carrier — too much paper. Yet, most policies incorporate just a few common forms. I think people would benefit from a service that stored all the common policy forms and provided policyholders with a full copy of their policy when required.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a tricked-out North Face backpack, and I love it. I traveled a bit this summer, and my backpack helped me stay organized and on point everywhere I went. It looks great too. I am a little embarrassed about how excited I am by this backpack.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

This is not new or unique, but remote meeting technologies, like Zoom and others, have been essential in the past year and a half. From a business perspective, we hardly missed a beat, thanks largely to court hearings and client meetings held over Zoom.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Bible is essential reading for believers and non-believers alike. There is no better wisdom than what is found in the Psalms and Proverbs. Our current society might have the highest aggregate intelligence in history, but we often fail as a society to match wisdom to all the things that we know. The wisdom in the Bible provides much-needed perspective to anyone open to looking for it there.

What is your favorite quote?

Romans 5:3-4 “… we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Key Learnings:

  • Take the time to hear everything your clients are saying and ask probing questions to truly understand not only their problems, but also their proposed solutions and the goals they are trying to achieve.
  • It is critical to develop personal relationships with people who have little in common with you.
  • Make an emotional investment in the success of your clients.