Features

Russ Dempsey – BroadStreet Partners 

Commitment to community and service 

Russ Dempsey, the general counsel at BroadStreet Partners, brings a wealth of experience from his career in the insurance and financial services sector. Joining the company in June 2022, Dempsey has played a vital role in steering BroadStreet’s unique approach to investing in high-performing independent insurance agencies toward success. 

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, BroadStreet Partners is renowned as one of the top 15 insurance brokerages in the U.S. Its distinctive culture of ownership fosters growth and success for its business partners. Under Dempsey’s leadership, BroadStreet executes more than 60 acquisitions annually, providing capital and expertise to agencies pursuing growth strategies. 

Dempsey’s emphasis on servant leadership permeates every aspect of his style and philosophy. From fostering transparency within the legal department to aligning organizational goals, Dempsey ensures that every team member is empowered to contribute to the company’s success. Under his guidance, BroadStreet’s legal department has expanded significantly with two new deputy general counsels, chief litigation officer, and other senior attorneys, reflecting Dempsey’s commitment to mentorship and continuous improvement. 

“At BroadStreet, we believe in fostering a culture of servant leadership which includes collaboration, empowerment, development and transparency. Our unique co-ownership model empowers every team member, driving collective success. The best part about being a leader is supporting the team and creating an environment that enables team success,” Dempsey says. 

Executing strategic legal initiatives 

BroadStreet faces a wide range of legal challenges, with some of the most significant including cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance. With the increasing volume of sensitive data collected by businesses and the sophistication of threat actors, cybersecurity is a top priority. The company must protect customer data, financial records, and intellectual property from cyberattacks and malicious activities. Navigating various privacy regulations governing data collection, storage, use, and sharing is critical. 

BroadStreet has insurance brokerage businesses across North America and faces a complex regulatory environment. Laws and regulations at federal, state, and local levels govern various aspects of the insurance brokerage business. Compliance with regulations related to insurance distribution, from licensing to compensation arrangements, is crucial to the business. 

Dempsey sees AI as having several potential benefits for legal departments, such as streamlining processes, improving efficiency, and assisting with the review of information for better data-driven decisions. AI can aid in document review, due diligence, legal research, contract management, and legal compliance. AI has the potential to quickly review and analyze vast amounts of legal documents and contracts, extract relevant information, identify key clauses, flag potential issues, and summarize information. While BroadStreet has yet to implement a contract management system, one powered by AI could automate the creation, review, and tracking of contracts throughout their lifecycle. Periodic evaluation of AI technologies will be crucial to explore ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and deliver higher-quality legal services to clients. 

Looking ahead to the rest of 2024, BroadStreet plans to focus on several significant projects.  

“With the team closing more than 60 acquisitions last year and on pace to exceed that figure this year, there is a strong emphasis on having an efficient deal process,” Dempsey says.  

Supporting the team 

Completing that many deals requires the hard work and dedication of many throughout the organization, including the legal team.  

At BroadStreet, Dempsey oversees a legal team of eight attorneys and a paraprofessional, collaborating with an additional ten attorneys at various insurance brokerage businesses. He has successfully filled vacancies and expanded the team to accommodate the company’s growth, leveraging his professional network to identify top talent. His strategies for attracting and retaining talent include fostering a positive and inclusive company culture, offering competitive compensation, providing career advancement opportunities, and ensuring work aligns with employees’ passions. 

Other priorities supporting the team include contract management, given the volume of insurance carrier agreements and related industry contracts, employment agreements, commercial leases, and transaction documents that are reviewed and processed.  

“Implementing a system to automate contracts’ creation, review, tracking and management throughout their lifecycle is on the radar,” Dempsey notes.  

Metrics and reports are essential to law department management. Understanding the volume of work, cycle times, and legal spending is crucial to ensuring team success. An e-billing system has assisted with managing legal spending, allowing the company to effectively roll out and manage billing requirements for outside counsel and quickly drill down into spend data by vendor or engagement. Dempsey is working with the M&A team to gather additional data to improve predictions regarding the volume of work and cycle times. 

Dempsey acknowledges that one of the hardest parts of his job is managing the high volume of M&A work, corporate transactions, and contracts. He has built a team to handle this workload and invested in process improvements to manage the work’s high volume and uneven nature.  

“Despite the challenges, I find satisfaction in collaborating with the team, removing obstacles and helping the team solve complex business problems,” Dempsey says.  

From philosophy to law 

Dempsey’s interest in law began with his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Marshall University. His passion for truth, knowledge, justice, and equity naturally led him towards the legal field. Initially, he planned to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy, but a pivotal conversation with a trusted professor during his senior year changed his path.  

The professor suggested law school, a notion Dempsey had never considered. This advice led him to the political science department and Capital University Law School, where he earned his JD and LLM degrees. 

Dempsey’s legal career flourished through several in-house roles at major financial and insurance companies. His tenure at Nationwide Financial, United Retirement Plan Consultants, and AIG Life and Retirement provided him with extensive experience in legal and compliance matters, allowing him to navigate complex regulatory environments and contribute strategically to each organization. 

At the PBGC, the legal team was 160 strong, and Dempsey served as the secretary to the board of directors, comprised of the secretaries of Labor, Treasury and Commerce.  

In June 2022, Dempsey joined BroadStreet Partners as general counsel. In this role, he oversees all legal aspects of the company, ensures regulatory compliance, and provides strategic legal advice to support the company’s growth and operations. His extensive background has been invaluable, enabling him to handle the legal intricacies of the industry with confidence and precision. 

Dempsey’s commitment to the legal community is evident through his active involvement in the Association of Corporate Counsel for over a decade. He has served in chapter leadership roles and on the Global Board of Directors, where he chaired the Advocacy Committee. His dedication to advancing corporate law and supporting his peers is a testament to his professional integrity. 

 

Published on: July 2, 2024

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