September 6, 2016 at 11:56 am

CLJC & MPA Alum | Farley, VP of Legal and Government Affairs for Ohio Insurance Institute

Center for Law, Justice & Culture Alumni Spotlight

Michael Farley earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University in 2007.  He then went on to join the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII) as Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs.

What brought you to Ohio University?

Michael Farley

Michael Farley

I had long heard of the tremendous reputation of Ohio University. I was researching graduate programs and I really liked the Executive Master of Public Administration program. The flexibility and rigor encompassing multiple disciplines inside of public administration (like nonprofit, public finance, leadership etc) attracted me to the program. The faculty is the best! As soon as I spent my first night in class—I knew I made the right choice.

What is your current occupation? Explain what you do in a typical day.

Currently, I am the Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs for the Ohio Insurance Institute. The Ohio Insurance Institute is the trade association representing the property casualty insurance industry in Ohio. In my role, I am the lead lobbyist interacting with the executive and legislative branches of state government. I also serve as in-house counsel, so I provide legal support to the operation of the OII. State trade associations are very critical for the insurance industry, as state government is the primary regulator of insurance.

How did you become interested in that field? Was there a particular topic or field of law that got you interested in it in the first place?

This question evokes three fields of interest: law, insurance, and politics. I became interested in politics when I ran President Reagan’s reelection campaign for my first grade class—and have been a political nerd ever since. When you watch hours of C-Span as a kid, you necessarily develop an interest in the law. My interest in insurance came about when I went to work for a state representative who was a leader on the Ohio House Insurance Committee. Sometimes, one gets lucky and in this case I got lucky to find insurance public policy. I am an administrative law attorney, insurance attorney, and corporate attorney. In my MPA program, I very much enjoyed public finance courses, nonprofit management courses, and the classes that required strategic thought and introduced concepts like “public value.” I consider myself a lawyer specializing in government relations that loves corporate and insurance law.

What’s your favorite part of your position? What are you passionate about?

My favorite part of my current position is identifying problems and working collaboratively to develop solutions to problems—this is the essence of being an attorney. I am passionate about advancing my clients’ interests and doing so with integrity, honesty, and tenacity. It is great that by assisting in promoting a strong insurance market, I get to help protect people’s futures (when they buy personal insurance lines products), help businesses grow (when they are able to secure commercial insurance), and help people maintain quality jobs (the insurance industry is a significant employer in Ohio).

How did your Ohio University experience prepare you for law school and shape your career path?

Ironically, attending Ohio University and pursuing the MPA was a way to avoid law school. Given the expense and time commitment, I kept pushing law school off. My plan backfired, as the advanced training I received in the MPA program only heightened my desire to attend law school.

What do you think most important things you did as an undergrad to get you prepared for law school?

The most important things from undergrad that I took away that prepared me for law school where the importance of good writing, communications, and developing strong work habits. I had a great professor in undergrad that said that education was “consciousness raising.” Becoming aware of the world around me is perhaps the best way undergraduate education helped prepare me for law school.

Do you have any advice for students interested in law?

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. Yes, law school is expensive and the legal environment is uncertain, but there is no training like it. That being stated, only go to law school if you are passionate about it. You will be changed and molded by law school—you will not be the same person. You will write differently, talk differently, and think differently. You will never work so hard in your life! However, when you see the law degree hanging on your wall, it will be worth it.

What is your favorite Ohio University memory?

I actually have two favorite memories. The first quarter (OHIO was on quarters then), on a Friday night, a thunderstorm developed. I was sitting in class at the Voinovich Center and I looked out the window and marveled at the beauty that is Athens, Ohio. My second memory is of graduation. My then 8-month-old son was there, along with my wife and my in-laws. I was so excited—although he clearly has no memory—that he was there. This was a step toward my dreams, perhaps Ohio University would be part of accomplishing his dreams someday. (He does remember my law school graduation and attending my swearing-in ceremonies for my law license.)

Anything else you would like to share?

We live in interesting times. I strongly encourage students to pave their own paths. Legal training helps this. Consider a career in the insurance industry; there are tons of jobs for smart and dedicated people. Whether you are a corporate lawyer, public defender, pro bono volunteer, or stay-at-home parent, you can change the world. I think those with legal training may have a leg up in our efforts to blaze a trail and leave the world a little better off. It is OK, and quite expected, that you be hopeful and optimistic. You are the next generation of lawyers and legal scholars—what choice do you have but to be hopeful and optimistic.

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