Civil Litigation Legal Topics Profiles Tort Law

Profile of Timothy R. Sullivan

As part of CEB’s commitment to bringing together California’s legal community, our blog will post a short interview with one of your fellow attorneys.

This week, we profile attorney and Consulting Editor of CEB’s new Property Insurance book Timothy R. Sullivan:

CEB: What are your practice areas and how/why did you choose or start in your practice area?
Tim: I started in insurance defense because I wanted to be in court.When I got out of law school, I had never even heard of insurance coverage. My firm asked me to work in coverage, and I really enjoy it. Now my practice is dedicated to insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. Over the years, I have been fortunate to be able to represent both policyholders and insurers. Our practice has grown to include both first party and third party claims under a wide range of policy types, so in that respect, my practice area is still evolving.

CEB: What do you like best and least about practicing law?
Tim: I don’t want to sound like Charlie Sheen, but I like winning. I also think coverage attorneys get to see the most interesting cases and characters, with fact patterns that sound like law school exams. Some of the most creative arguments are made to try to trigger coverage. I like the fact that I have to learn something new every day. What I like least is having to account for my day in 6-minute increments.

CEB: What is the best legal tip you ever received?
Tim: It wasn’t a legal tip. It was advice from my father, who was a farmer in Missouri. Like most Midwesterners, we didn’t have an irrigation system and were totally dependent on getting enough rain each year. I watched my father juggle crops, crop acreage and livestock numbers based on whether he expected a wet or a dry year. When all his planning was done, he’d get to work and say, “Worryin won’t make it rain.” He taught me that you need to work hard to control what you can, but realize you can’t control everything.

CEB: What CEB book or program have you found most helpful in your practice and why?
Tim: I really enjoy the yearly review programs, Civil Litigation Practice: Annual Recent Developments and Torts Practice: Annual Recent Developments.  It always amazes me to hear how much has changed in one year. It’s a great recap of things I may have missed.

CEB: Why do you choose to write for CEB?
Tim: Working with CEB makes me feel like I have contributed to the practice of law, and gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I like working on books because it puts you in touch with some incredibly bright attorneys, both authors in private practice and editors on the CEB staff. It requires you to roll up your sleeves and really dig into a subject, and you can’t help learning something new. And I like working on the annual updates because it makes me review all the new cases to see what is new and how and where it fits into our projects.

CEB: How do you think the practice of law will change in the next 15 years?
Tim: I expect technology will give rise to several new torts that we haven’t recognized yet. Social media may expose parents to liability for what their kids post, and may give rise to new types of on-line identity theft. Genetic testing may push the limits of privacy law, especially in the workplace. The ability to manipulate a baby’s genes may give rise to new types of medical malpractice claims if the parents aren’t happy with the result. Genetically engineered foods may give rise to new types of mass liability claims. And I expect insurance will have to adapt to these new types of liability exposure.

CEB: What is your contact information?
Tim: McCormick Barstow LLP, 5 River Park Place East, Fresno, CA 93720; Tel: (559) 433-1300; Fax: (559) 433-2300;

CEB: Thanks, Tim! We are all very excited about the new CEB book you worked on, California Property Insurance: Law and Litigation, coming out soon and available for a pre-publication discount price for a limited time. We appreciate the insights you provided about this new book in the YouTube video we did together.  And congratulations on being elected Fresno County Bar President for 2011!

© The Regents of the University of California, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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