Avenida Rio Branco, 12 - 9th floor, Centro
20090-000, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dennys Zimmermann receives universal endorsements for his first-rate practice which sees him regularly assisting international insurers and reinsurers on cyber and M&A matters.
Dennys Zimmermann has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance and reinsurance field, focusing on large losses (property, casualty, energy, BI and financial lines) with practical knowledge of cyber and M&A insurance. He assists in the introduction of products to the Brazilian market, working on matters relating to cyber, crime, K&R, D&O, R&W and offshore, among others, as well as working on regulatory matters, loss adjustments and litigation claims.
Describe your career to date.
I started working with insurance when I was still an intern, in one of the first specialised offices in the country; I stayed there for almost twelve years and became a partner. However, Brazil at that time was still an extremely closed market, there was a reinsurance monopoly, we were completely out of step with the best practices in the industry. I decided to leave my position and work with foreign offices; my desire then was to learn the market practices in London and the USA. When the Brazilian market finally opened, I felt much more empowered. In all, I passed through large international offices such as Clyde & Co, Mayer Brown and finally Kennedys. Two years ago I started my own firm with other Kennedys alumni.
What are the most challenging aspects of being an insurance and reinsurance lawyer in Brazil?
We had a very large gap in our formation because our market was closed and even though many years have elapsed since its opening, the insurance and reinsurance industry is highly underestimated, the financial results are relatively timid and this has varied effects on academic legal production, on the appreciation of specialised professionals and even on the fees policy. When I worked in full-service offices, I witnessed the difference in earnings in the insurance and reinsurance area with others such as banking, oil & gas, and this made internal discussions very difficult when, for example, we were experiencing conflict situations.
How do you establish a detailed understanding of a client’s business to advise them effectively?
I understand that the main thing is to interact with all areas within the insurer or reinsurer. Today our performance is greater in claims; even so, we always seek to dialogue internally with the legal, compliance, underwriting and commercial areas. And this dialogue must take place at all levels to better understand what the customer wants.
On what types of matters have clients most sought your advice recently? Are they any trends you are able to discern?
There have been times when I have worked very intensively with product development. But recently, my performance has become very prominent in claims. It was not a private decision of mine, but the result of a natural demand from clients. What we did from there was to naturally accept this vocation and, without losing interest in other areas, seek to specialise even more, develop new systems and methods. Today, I find it very difficult to find an office of our size with the level of information security and technological development that we have. This has a huge impact on the response time, on the quality of the service we offer. And if I had to highlight a trend for law firms that work with insurance and reinsurance, it would be this one, that of technological innovation with information security. There is no room for that outdated model of law firms in which a lawyer only needed a room and a computer.
If you could introduce one reform to Brazilian insurance law, what would it be and why?
I am particularly pleased with the level of flexibility the industry has achieved in recent years. I am afraid that this will be reversed in the future. I understand that for the industry to advance it is first necessary to let the market work. A restrictive and protective agenda only makes sense in businesses where we have under-sufficient parts, not in relatively balanced environments. That done, we need stability; it is not healthy for regulatory bodies to take completely different directions with each change of government.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of the practice area lie?
I believe there will always be work for insurance and reinsurance lawyers. But I would say that the future is in products like cyber, for example, and to work with products like this, offices will need to adjust to multidisciplinary work, working in a more integrated way with professionals from other areas.
As a partner of RPZ Advogados, what are your main priorities for the firm’s development over the next couple of years?
Today the challenge is greater international integration. I come from global structures like Clyde & Co, Mayer Brown, Kennedys. When we set up our firm two years ago, we worked assiduously on organising a network of offices, especially in Latin America and continental Europe, and the result was that at the end of last year we launched Insulaw, where we have already held seminars, exchanges of ideas and information. Today we are signing a strategic alliance with a London office, the RPC (the similarity of names is just a happy coincidence) and planning to resume visits in this post-pandemic scenario. A seminar on Latam has already been scheduled for September this year.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Understand what your client wants. There are lawyers who seem more concerned with themselves, with their vanity, than with the interests of their own clients. We always give up our vanity to try to tell our customers with transparency and responsibility how something can be done in the most profitable and least risky way.