Shaw fights for Florida insurance consumers

Published: November 24th, 2008

Category: Feature

Sean M. Shaw

Sean M. Shaw (JD 03) was appointed Florida’s insurance consumer advocate by Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Just five years after graduating from law school, Sean M. Shaw (JD 03) is taking a big step into public office as Florida’s insurance consumer advocate.

Tapped for the position by Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Shaw began his new full-time post on Nov. 17 leaving the Tallahassee firm Messer, Caparello & Self, P.A. where he specialized in employment discrimination defense.

“I believe I got called to this position because I have been a passionate advocate for my community,” said Shaw of his appointment. “I see it as a way not only to give back to my local community but as a way to help all insurance consumers in Florida.”

The state’s insurance consumer advocate is responsible for addressing and seeking solutions to insurance issues facing Floridians, communicating those issues to residents of the state, and representing consumers on insurance issues before local, state and federal authorities.

Shaw will work with an office of about 10 people to monitor the insurance markets in areas including health, property and auto. He will work to identify bad practices and find ways to address and correct those bad practices.

“This office’s aim is to ensure that the insurance market is strong and that it is good for the consumer,” said Shaw explaining that a good market will benefit both the consumers and insurance companies.

In the short time since receiving his law degree from the University of Florida, Shaw has been dedicated to serving the Tallahassee community, where he grew up and returned to begin his professional career. Shaw also received a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University in 2000.

His dedication to public service comes in part from the example set by his father, retired Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Leander J. Shaw, whose long career in public service included serving as assistant public defender as well as serving on several state and judicial commissions and committees.

“He’s a person that just gave his entire professional life and dedicated it to public service,” Shaw said of his father. “A dedicated public servant is a rarity and can make a big difference.”

Shaw’s dedication to his community has led him to serve on several boards of community organizations. He is on the board of directors for the Bond Community Health Center, a Leon county clinic where patients can receive medical care regardless of their ability to pay, the Capital Area Community Action Agency, which serves low-income residents in seven north Florida counties, Access Tallahassee, which is a chamber of commerce for young professionals, and Leadership Tallahassee. He also serves a mentor for students in East Gadsden High School near Tallahassee, Fla.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my life and those of us who are fortunate enough to have those opportunities have a responsibility to give back and help others to have those opportunities as well,” said Shaw.

Seeing the need for improving education, healthcare, infant mortality and the salaries of state employees, Shaw ran for the Florida House of Representatives in August to represent District 8, which includes Gadsden and Leon counties.

While he’ll concentrate for now on his new position as insurance consumer advocate, Shaw is confident his career will continue to lead him down the path of public service and that experience in law will serve him well.

“Being a lawyer makes you versatile and able to do lots of things,” he said. “It never hurts to be a lawyer.”