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April 7, 2021

Butler is proud to spotlight one of its long standing Partners, Bill Lewis. Having built a successful career as a lawyer with the firm for almost 30 years, Bill’s experiences have opened up opportunities to work alongside leading partners within the firm, prestigious legal organizations and top insurance companies in the industry.  In our interview Bill candidly shares his journey in becoming a lawyer, and life balancing work and family as a proud husband and father.  


You’ve served as chair on multiple committees like the American Bar Association and the Property Insurance Law Committee. How do organizations such as these add value to insurance industry professionals?

The American Bar Association – Property Insurance Law Committee has a long history with the firm.  Paul Butler, Sandy Burnette, Doug Berry, myself, Rich Gable, Clark Schirle and John Garaffa have been Chairs.  It is an educational committee bringing primarily insurance defense counsel from around the country to a centralized location to share trends in insurance related matters.  Without this Association I am not sure we would have opened a Chicago office, as our relationship with Clark was formed at these meetings.  Similarly, Tom Brown and Rich Gable started our Philadelphia office after we formed relationships at these meetings.   I gave my first speech on Rental Value Coverage at one of these meetings in California way back in the day and I can tell you I was quite nervous to be speaking to attorneys at the top of the insurance market.  I didn’t want to mess anything up as I thought at the time someone might call me out then and there if I made a mistake.  The ABA Property Coverage Committee probably has highest caliber of defense counsel of any organization in the country and to a certain extent has been ingrained in the culture of the property department of the firm for many years. 


You joined Butler in 1993 and have been with the Firm since. What made you choose to work and build your career at Butler?

I joined Butler in June 1993 after a law clerk position with the Florida First District Court of Appeal.  I did not know Tampa very well but my girlfriend at the time, Kathy Castor, went to Chamberlain High School and grew up in Carrollwood.  Her dad was still a Hillsborough County Judge and her mother was soon to become the President of the University of South Florida so Tampa was a good fit.  One of the former partners of the firm, Sandy Burnette, was very good friends with Judge Michael Allen on the First District Court of Appeal, and he made an introduction to get me an interview.  I interviewed with the old time gauntlet, Paul Butler, Sandy Burnette and John Weihmuller.  I don’t remember much of the interview but I do remember that John’s blinds were open and he sat me in a chair that blinded me.  I finally had to ask him if I could move since the sun was directly in my eyes and I could not see him during the interview.  I actually contemplated whether I should even ask to move for fear he would think me too forward.  To be honest, I did not know much about first-party property law but I did write an opinion for my judge in a case called Imhof v. Nationwide, which Paul was quite interested at the time.  I doubt it helped me then but there was at least a partial connection with Paul.  The rest as they say is history.  I have been here for 28 years. 


Tell us about a case you’ve handled that you’re most proud of.

I have been involved in many interesting cases at the firm. Some I have won and some I have lost.  But the one that is the most memorable was a fire loss in Miami at the home of Zigmund and Sara Markevitz.  The loss was intentionally set and there was a very complicated tale of events set in motion by Mr. Markevitz as to how the loss happened.  Ultimately, Chubb was successful in recovering its attorney fees and costs during the sentencing hearing of Mr. Markevitz.  Back in the day, I probably traveled to Miami 3 days a week for hearings, depositions, witness interviews and the like.  There were informants, a suspect who turned on the insured, and allegations that the house was burned at the behest of Manuel Noriega, because the insured helped identify secret cocaine fields in Panama.  We took the deposition of Bill Bennett, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, appointed by President George H.W. Bush.  It was a fun time for a young attorney to be given that much responsibility.  I will never forget being in Chubb’s (which is now one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies in the world) home office in New Jersey with the head of all worldwide claims and Sandy Burnette was asked what were the odds of winning the trial.  Sandy Burnette said with a straight face “100%.  We will not lose this case.” And he meant it.  He was that fine of a trial attorney.  He was the smoothest person I have ever seen in front of a jury. 


Your wife is Kathy Castor, and you have two beautiful daughters. How do you find balance between your legal career, your wife’s political career and being a dad?

I moved to Tampa in 1993 and Kathy joined me later as she was an Assistant General Counsel at the Florida Department of Community Affairs that ran until 1994.  In May 1994, we got married.  Kathy became a partner at Broad and Cassel practicing environmental, local government and land use law before she made her first run for office.  Julia was born in 1997, attended Robinson High school in the IB program, then moved all the way to Berkeley, California to attend the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears).  Julia recently got into Columbia University College of Law and will start in the fall (Go Lions).  Chrissy was born in 1999 and kept us busy traveling around the Country to play soccer.  She was a very talented soccer player in her day and so much fun to watch.  Literally crazy on the field.  Like night and day from her off field personality (she wants to go into philanthropy after she graduates).  Chrissy went to Plant High School and is now at The Florida State University (Go Noles).  After the girls were born, Kathy ran for the State Senate and lost, which was probably a blessing.  In 2002, she ran for the County Commission, won the election and in 2006 ran and was elected to the United States House of Representatives. Today, she is the Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and serves on the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  Since 2006, she has traveled to Washington about 40 weeks a year.  She usually leaves on a Monday and returns on a Friday so we have juggled a lot of schedules.  In retrospect, it has made our girls independent, diligent, studious and trustworthy.  People ask how we managed it but you make it work.  We have great neighbors, friends and my partners.  Each has contributed in ways to help in a pinch.