Features

Daniel J. Poterek – Universal Insurance Holdings 

Driving legal excellence for national insurance provider 

Daniel J. Poterek is at the forefront of legal strategy and organization within Universal Insurance Holdings, serving as the General Counsel of Operations. Throughout his tenure at Universal, Poterek has been dedicated to legal excellence and forward-thinking initiatives, driving a transformative shift in the company’s legal practices and litigation strategy. 

Daniel J. Poterek | General Counsel of Operations | Universal Insurance Holdings 

Daniel J. Poterek | General Counsel of Operations | Universal Insurance Holdings

Poterek has played a vital role in reshaping the legal landscape within Universal and beyond. His visionary leadership and dedication to modernization have transformed the company’s legal practices and influenced and inspired legal professionals across the industry. 

“I firmly believe in leading by example, setting the standard for legal excellence and embracing innovation. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, I aim to drive transformative changes within our organization and the broader legal landscape,” Poterek tells Vanguard during an interview in April.  

The dedication to modernization is evident in every aspect of Universal’s operations as it strives to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the insurance industry, Poterek says. 

Pioneering innovation 

In a world where artificial intelligence holds promise, Poterek acknowledges its potential benefits while cautioning against overestimating its capabilities. He emphasizes the irreplaceable value of paralegals and legal assistants, recognizing their fundamental contributions to legal operations. Despite advancements in AI, Poterek maintains that the human touch remains paramount in nuanced legal tasks and decision-making. 

Daniel J. Poterek | General Counsel of Operations | Universal Insurance Holdings 

Poterek oversees a vast litigation portfolio encompassing thousands of cases, each with unique complexities. While AI aids in certain aspects of case management, such as organizing data and deadlines, its limitations underscore the ongoing need for human oversight and judgment, and Poterek highlights the importance of proper training and education in harnessing AI effectively and ethically within the legal profession. 

“In the age of AI, human oversight remains crucial in legal operations. I’m dedicated to modernizing our department through technology integration and efficiency improvements, shaping the future of legal practice,” Poterek explains.  

Poterek’s commitment to modernizing legal operations is evident in his strategic technology integration. He has spearheaded initiatives to streamline litigation procedures, enhance communication channels, and drive efficiency across the legal department. By leveraging the latest technological advancements, Poterek has transformed legal processes at Universal. 

Looking ahead, Poterek envisions a future where Universal’s legal department continues to grow, excel and make a meaningful impact. His vision for the company includes a technologically advanced legal department deeply connected to the company’s values and mission.  

Teamwork in legal operations 

In addition to modernization, Poterek strongly emphasizes talent development and professionalism. He is dedicated to attracting and mentoring top legal professionals, fostering an environment where individuals can thrive and contribute to the company’s success. Through mentorship programs and ongoing training initiatives, Poterek ensures that Universal’s legal team remains at the forefront of legal excellence. 

Daniel J. Poterek | General Counsel of Operations | Universal Insurance Holdings 

Poterek’s commitment to legal education extends beyond Universal. He actively coaches law students at the University of Miami School of Law, imparting practical knowledge and real-world insights. By preparing students for the challenges of legal practice, Poterek is shaping the next generation of legal professionals and instilling in them a passion for law. 

Central to Poterek’s approach is a deep-seated belief in the power of collaboration and innovation. He fosters a culture where ideas are welcomed, creativity is encouraged, and teamwork is celebrated. By leveraging the diverse talents and perspectives within the legal department, Poterek drives forward-thinking initiatives that push the boundaries of legal practice. 

As Universal Insurance Holdings continues to evolve and expand its legal operations, Poterek remains committed to upholding the company’s reputation for excellence while embracing innovation and growth.  

“We are focused on continuous improvement and are dedicated to nurturing talent,” Poterek says.  

Experience in law  

Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Poterek’s journey to success is rooted in his early passion for the law. It all began during his undergraduate years at the University of Miami, where he studied political science and American studies. It was here that Poterek’s interest in the legal field was ignited, solidifying his desire to pursue a career in law. 

During his time there, he had the opportunity to work for the law school dean, which further fueled his ambition to become a lawyer. Meeting professors and immersing himself in the legal environment at the university inspired Poterek to pursue a legal career—he earned a JD from the University of Miami School of Law. 

Daniel J. Poterek | General Counsel of Operations | Universal Insurance Holdings 

Upon graduating from law school, Poterek started as an associate attorney for Broad and Cassel in its Orlando office, where he gained valuable experience for almost two years before transitioning to The Burton Firm, where he later was elevated to a partnership role. During his time at The Burton Firm, Poterek discovered his passion for litigation, finding fulfillment in advocating for clients in legal disputes. 

“My time working with Richard and Marc Burton taught me so much, and I have the utmost respect for them, their brilliant legal minds, and their friendship. I am the lawyer I am today because of Richard and Marc,” Poterek says.  

In May 2020, Poterek took a significant step forward in his career by joining Universal as an associate general counsel. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Poterek embraced the opportunity, bringing his paralegal of over a decade. He found satisfaction in the stability, values, and autonomy offered by Universal Property. 

His dedication and leadership skills quickly propelled Poterek to his current position, a role he assumed in January 2024. Each step of his career has been marked by a commitment to excellence and a passion for serving clients, making him a valuable asset to Universal Insurance Holdings and the legal profession. 

While Poterek acknowledges his career success, he quickly points out the many people who have helped him along the way, including his paralegal, Stephanie Rubio. 

“My success is her success. My career is a testament to her support and her immense talent. I’ve been honored to work with her for so long,” he says.  

Additionally, Poterek says Universal’s chief legal officer, Darryl Lewis, is a true visionary who exudes professionalism and ethics at the highest level. He showed confidence in Poterek, who values his leadership and the relationship the two have built over the years. 

“I also appreciate everything my colleague and counterpart Michel Morgan brings to her role in the legal department,” Poterek says. “She brings out the best in me and is wonderful to collaborate and strategize with.” 

Published on: July 1, 2024

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