PRIVATE COMPANY WITH ANNUAL REVENUES OVER $500M
Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Safety National
Not every in-house counsel engages heavily in company operations, but at Safety National, Nick Kriegel does.
Kriegel is general counsel for the company, a specialty insurance provider that was founded in 1942 and is now a subsidiary of Tokio Marine Group in Japan. As Safety National’s top lawyer in a legal department of four, he handles issues relating to statutory and regulatory requirements, board meetings, filings for acquisitions and service agreements between the seven companies under the Safety National umbrella. In addition, he provides legal support for the corporate compliance and human resources departments.
Yet a significant portion of his responsibility is co-leading a group that steers and guides company operations. Kriegel calls this a “multifaceted, nebulous role” that has him working in a wide range of areas.
“One of the benefits of providing niche insurance products for large companies,” Kriegel explained, “is that there are always opportunities for businesses to engage with us when they’re looking for a bespoke solution.”
It wasn’t always clear that Kriegel would be in such a position; at DePauw University, he said, his future felt “wide open” as he majored in classical studies and English literature.
With those credentials, he came to conclude, “You can teach, you can pour coffee or you can go to grad school.” His father was a lawyer, so he followed that path. He enrolled at the University of Missouri School of Law, where he graduated in 2002 in the first classes after the events of 9/11. Transaction work had dried up, Kriegel recalled, and lawyers were having a hard time finding jobs.
For approximately four years, he worked as a private defense attorney handling workers’ compensation and liability litigation for self-insured employers and insurers. In those cases, he got a thorough education in how insurance products work, yet he became interested in coming at it from a different angle.
“When you’re outside counsel,” he recalled, “you essentially try to clean up messes. Inside, you’re part of a team that helps the company move forward.”
Kriegel got a chance to do just that in 2006 upon joining Safety National. At first, he served as staff counsel, doing primarily contract review and nondisclosure review, but his duties began to change and increase in complexity on a monthly basis.
Today, Kriegel said, Safety National is more than three times larger “from a premium perspective” than it had been when he arrived — growth that he characterized as “mostly organic, not acquisition-based.”
One reflection of that growth is the $32 million expansion of its Maryland Heights headquarters. The campus will accommodate up to 1,000 employees and is scheduled to be finished in 2021.
Kriegel is serving as the internal project lead for that expansion project. Under the direction of senior management, he is coordinating internal aspects of the design and construction, including zoning and contracts. But he declines to take much credit for the expansion.
“There’s very little I can point to that I have accomplished individually,” said Kriegel. “My accomplishments are really a reflection of the great teams I’ve worked with. I’m sure everybody says that, but I’ve got some awesome people I work with.”