Kevin Larner has a law pedigree. His grandfather founded the New Jersey law firm Budd Larner, which enjoyed eighty-five years of success before shuttering in 2019. “My grandfather was a litigator back in the day when being a litigator meant being a trial lawyer in court all the time,” says Larner.
His father and uncle both joined Budd Larner after graduating law school, going on to become partners and staying for nearly fifty years. “I was from a family where law and the concept of being a lawyer was considered esteemed,” Larner says. The family’s dinner conversations would inevitably drift to law, with his father and grandfather using a phrase that stuck in Larner’s mind.
“They would refer to lawyers as ‘counselors at law.’ Their job was to counsel clients and to be business partners with their clients. I always found that to be interesting that they’d use that term, which we don’t hear that much anymore,” Larner says.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Amherst College. Despite his family’s law legacy, he took a job with accounting giant PwC and spent two years in PwC’s accounting and auditing group.
“I learned a ton, but over time I realized it wasn’t where I was meant to be,” says Larner. After working briefly for one of his PwC clients, Larner earned a JD from Rutgers Law. “Looking back, I probably knew when I graduated college that I wanted to go to law school, but I wasn’t ready,” says Larner, now associate general counsel of litigation at AIG.
Originally hired in 2016 to handle AIG’s commercial litigation and bankruptcy litigation, Larner saw a considerable broadening of his duties when he was tapped to litigate insurance coverage matters. He describes his transition from bankruptcy law to insurance coverage law as a “sink or swim” situation. It was a challenge getting up to speed on this new area of litigation, he remembers, especially with respect to advising his new business clients on issues he previously hadn’t encountered.
Before signing on with AIG, Larner worked at Riker Danzig for eleven years. It was there that he was introduced to bankruptcy law as a summer associate, an area of the law that requires malleability. “You have to be able to adapt your practice to whatever industry or focus of the company that’s in bankruptcy,” says Larner.
At AIG, Larner manages a team of seven who handle commercial litigation, property litigation, and specialty coverage litigation, as well as all of AIG’s sex abuse coverage litigation. The most prominent of these cases is one that made national news involving the Boy Scouts of America, an organization with a history of sexual abuse against children, says Larner.
“They filed for bankruptcy a few years ago, and for the past several years that has been my biggest case,” Larner says. The case involves both bankruptcy and insurance coverage, two areas of law Larner is well-equipped to litigate.
“I have been able to utilize my bankruptcy background and bring it into the insurance coverage fold and blend those two together to guide management and the company through what has been a very complicated case,” says Larner.
Another group of cases Larner and his team have been litigating involves AIG’s insurance coverage of aircrafts. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Western governments issued sanctions against Russia, which prompted the Russian government to issue sanctions of their own, causing disruptions to the aircraft leasing industry. The sanctions required Western aircraft lessors to terminate their leases with Russian airlines, which required the Russian airlines to return those planes to the lessors. However, Russian regulations forbid such an act.
“Western lessors couldn’t get the planes back, and this [issue] has given rise to several multibillion-dollar disputes in the US and abroad where the lessors have filed claims for the value of all of the planes in Russia,” Larner explains. “These are fascinating cases. Aviation insurers have never seen claims of this scope and complexity, and these cases will be breaking new legal ground over the next twelve months in courts in the US and Europe.”
Since coming to AIG, Larner has been willing to take on challenges, whether that means expanding his role or tackling more complex legal matters. He recommends that young lawyers do the same. Lawyers who embrace new challenges and the risks that come with those challenges demonstrate to their peers and to management that they are both valuable members of the team and can be entrusted with challenging assignments, interesting cases, and more responsibility, Larner says.
And when Larner is not litigating for AIG, he volunteers as the president of Ridge Baseball Club, a nonprofit youth baseball organization in his hometown. “It’s something I learned from my grandfather and my father,” Larner notes. “With the privilege [of] practicing law comes a responsibility to volunteer and give back to my community.”