PERMA does not select attorneys for the panel and does not assign cases to attorneys. Defense attorneys are selected by a process that begins with a periodic RFQ released by each fund attorney to give potential candidates an opportunity to make application to participate on the fund’s legal panel. After reviewing the applications, the Fund Attorney recommends a panel appointed annually by resolution of the commissioners at their January reorganization meeting.
For Public Officials and Employment Practices, the panel is created by the insurer after receiving advice from the local JIF Fund Attorneys. After the panel is selected, individual cases are assigned to defense attorneys by the Fund Attorney or by the insurer in the case of public officials and employment practices liability.
JIF defense panels include almost all firms in the state that have successful defense experience in areas of the law pertaining to Title 40 (the municipal code), Title 59 (the Tort Claims Act), Workers’ Compensation, LAD (the Law Against Discrimination) and CEPA (the Conscientious Employee Protection Act).
With few exceptions, the firms on the list represented the JIFs before 2007 when PERMA merged with Conner Strong and Buckelew. Most of the firms are not on the list regularly represent plaintiffs in suits against member local governments and therefore are conflicted from serving on the defense panels.