OneAmerica GC Zurek retires, joins Chicago firm

The long-serving general counsel of OneAmerica Financial has left the Indianapolis company and has transitioned to an of counsel role at a Chicago law firm.

Thomas M. Zurek retired from OneAmerica on April 1 and is now serving as of counsel in the Chicago office of Schiff Hardin LLP. In his new role, Zurek is working in Schiff Hardin’s insurance and reinsurance and litigation and dispute resolution practice groups.

Prior to his retirement, Zurek worked for OneAmerica for 17 years, overseeing litigation and transactional matters as senior chief legal counsel, executive vice president and secretary of OneAmerica Financial Group. He said he chose to retire from the Indianapolis-based organization to give younger employees the opportunity to step into leadership roles.

“The people that I brought along are now in senior leadership positions, and I believe that’s an appropriate thing,” Zurek told Indiana Lawyer. “… I had the opportunity to do other things, so this was a perfect chance for them to take a step up.”

The OneAmerica website lists Richard M. Ellery as the company’s current senior vice president, general counsel and secretary.  

“Tom Zurek was instrumental in influencing the growth and success of OneAmerica during his 17-year tenure as a leader on our executive team (as executive vice president, senior chief legal counsel and secretary of our board of directors),” OneAmerica President and CEO Scott Davison said in a statement to Indiana Lawyer. “He was tenacious in his legal representation and his broad industry knowledge helped to propel our organization to new heights.”

Zurek’s focus at Schiff Hardin’s Chicago office will be on insurance and reinsurance. He is also serving as president and CEO of Sargasso Mutual Insurance Company, an offshore directors and officers liability insurance company representing large American mutual financial services companies, including OneAmerica.

In addition to his litigation experience, Zurek is an experienced arbitrator and a certified arbitrator for ARIAS, the leading insurance and reinsurance trade association.

“With Tom’s extensive ties to the insurance industry, we are deepening an already strong relationship with an important industry sector for the firm,” Everett J. Cygal, leader of Schiff Hardin’s Insurance and Reinsurance Practice Group, said in a statement. “Clients will benefit from Tom’s counsel and experience as the demand for life insurance-based arbitrations is on the rise.”

Zurek has also served as general counsel of American General Life Companies, now known as AIG. Prior to his time in the corporate world, he practiced law for 26 years.

To that end, Zurek said his transition from corporate GC to of counsel at a private firm has been “just fine.”

“I’m very familiar with the way things work in law firms,” he said.

Zurek, 70, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a juris doctorate, both from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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