Barbara O'Donnell has more than 20 years of experience in matters of insurance coverage, extra contractual liability, insurance agent/broker liability, employment, and professional liability law. Ms. O'Donnell's practice is regional, and she has handled matters in several state and federal courts and before administrative and arbitration tribunals.
Ms. O'Donnell's insurance coverage practice includes the resolution and litigation of a broad range of liability coverage issues under commercial, specialty lines, professional, directors and officers, employment practices, and other standard form and manuscript policies. She regularly advises and represents insurers in complex coverage disputes involving allocation issues, primary/excess obligations, advertising injury coverage, additional and other insured questions, application misrepresentation defenses, and the application of exclusions under claims made and occurrence based policies. Ms. O'Donnell also counsels insurers concerning claims handling obligations and effective ways to minimize exposure to extra contractual liability claims.
Drawing on the breadth of her insurance coverage and industry experience, Ms. O'Donnell also drafts policy forms and endorsements for insurers. Ms. O'Donnell also prepares and presents custom tailored training programs for insurance professionals on claims handling best practices, emerging issues, and effective ways to resolve difficult coverage disputes.
Ms. O'Donnell's professional liability practice includes the representation of insurance agent/brokers against claims alleging the failure to procure requested or appropriate coverages. In defending agent/brokers against these claims, Ms. O'Donnell often draws upon her insurance coverage experience to establish that the agent/broker's conduct did not cause the alleged loss in any event.
In her employment law practice, Ms. O'Donnell counsels employers about effective ways to minimize liability exposure under the expanding array of state and federal laws governing employee/employer relations. Ms. O'Donnell regularly negotiates and prepares agreements to resolve disputes, including separation, nondisclosure, and settlement agreements.
Ms. O'Donnell holds leadership positions in national bar and insurance industry organizations. She is the current chair of the Reinsurance, Excess and Surplus Insurance Section of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel ("FDCC") and a past chair of the FDCC's Extra Contractual Liability Section and the ABA/TIPS Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee. Drawing on her expertise in resolving complex insurance coverage and bad faith disputes, Ms. O'Donnell served on the faculty of the FDCC's Graduate Litigation Management Program attended by senior level corporate and insurance industry litigation management professionals for a number of years. Ms. O'Donnell is the incoming co-chair of the ABA/TIPS Book Publishing Board and a liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Publishing Oversight. She is a past editor of TortSource, an ABA/TIPS publication, and also served for several years on the editorial board of the ABA/TIPS Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Law Journal. For over ten years, Ms. O'Donnell served as the articles editor for The CGL Reporter, a biannual International Risk Management Institute publication.
Ms. O'Donnell has also been recognized as one of the leading insurance coverage attorneys on the Massachusetts and Corporate Counsel Super Lawyers list in each of the past ten years.
Ms. O'Donnell frequently writes and speaks on emerging insurance coverage issues and effective ways to avoid or minimize bad faith liability. Her 2015 presentations included a panel discussion on "Making (and Avoiding) the Case for Bad Faith" at the February 2015 ABA/TIPS Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Midyear Meeting and moderating a program entitled "Navigating Extra Contractual Insurance Claims" at the May 2015 ABA/TIPS Spring Meeting. In February of 2014 she addressed "Current Battlegrounds in Defective Construction Coverage Disputes" at CLM's Insurance Bad Faith/Construction Conference. In March 2012, she spoke at DRI's Insurance Coverage Claims Institute on the topic "Defenses To Bad Faith Actions: Do They Exist And Do They Work" and moderated a panel discussion on "Multiple Claimants and Insufficient Limits - Can Insurers Lessen their Exposure to Bad Faith Claims" at the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel Winter Meeting. Ms. O'Donnell's article entitled "Asserting the Genuine Dispute Doctrine as a Defense to Extracontractual Suits" appears in the Spring 2014 issue of DRI's For the Defense. She also authored the opening chapter on "Insurance Policy Interpretation and Construction" in the West Group/American Bar Association (ABA) treatise entitled "The Law and Practice of Insurance Coverage Litigation". Ms. O'Donnell's article entitled "The First Wave of Decisions Interpreting Employment Practices Liability Policies" appeared in the Fall 2005 issue of The Brief, an ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) publication.
Ms. O'Donnell received her B.A., with distinction, from the University of Virginia and her J.D., cum laude, from Boston College Law School. She is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Ms. O'Donnell also holds a Martindale-Hubble AV (preeminent) rating.
101 Federal Street
Boston, MA, 02110
|Attorney/Partner||Zelle McDonough & Cohen LLP||2009 - 2015|
|Attorney/Partner||Robinson & Cole LLP||1999 - 2009|
|Association name||Position name||Duration|
|American Bar Association||N/A||N/A|
|American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section||N/A||N/A|
|Defense Research Institute||N/A||N/A|
|Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel||N/A||N/A|
|Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel||"Efforts to Shape Climate Change Litigation Landscape"||2015|
|For The Defense (DRI, Defense Research Institute)||"Asserting the Genuine Dispute Doctrine as a Defense to Extracontractual Suits"||2014|
|West Group/American Bar Association (ABA) treatise entitled "The Law and Practice of Insurance Coverage Litigation"||"Insurance Policy Interpretation and Construction"||2014|
|The Brief (ABA)||"The First Wave of Decisions Interpreting Employment Practices Liability Policies"||2005|
|Boston College Law School||JD - Juris Doctor||1984|
|University of Virginia||BA with distrinction||1981|
|ABA/TIPS Spring Meeting||"Navigating Extra Contractual Insurance Claims"||2015|
|ABA/TIPS Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee Midyear Meeting||"Making (and Avoiding) the Case for Bad Faith"||2015|
|CLM Insurance Bad Faith/Construction Conference||"Current Battlegrounds in Defective Construction Coverage Disputes"||2014|
|Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel Winter Meeting||"Multiple Claimants and Insufficient Limits - Can Insurers Lessen their Exposure to Bad Faith Claims"||2012|
|DRI Insurance Coverage Claims Institute||"Defenses To Bad Faith Actions: Do They Exist And Do They Work"||2012|