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Schreiber blends business with law

Schreiber blends business with law

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Ariella Schreiber | Rural Mutual Insurance Co.
Ariella Schreiber | Rural Mutual Insurance Co.

Law school didn’t teach Ariella Schreiber enough about business, so she’s going for her MBA in addition to working a full-time day job.

That one job would be enough for many people.

As the director of claims for Rural Mutual Insurance Co. in Madison, Schreiber oversees the property and casualty units and supervises three managers. She also has a big say in what approach the company should take to litigation and how much to pay for settlements.

“I try to make sure we’re making good decisions,” Schreiber said, “not only for us as a company, but also for our insureds.”

Working for an insurance company in Wisconsin wasn’t part of Schreiber’s original plan. In fact, working as an attorney wasn’t necessarily a guarantee either.

A New Jersey native, she went to Rutgers University and studied chemical engineering and history. She said she, like many people, was at loose ends following college graduation.

She ultimately chose law school at Seton Hall University. But that was “nothing like I imagined” and led to some doubts, Schreiber said.

During that time, though, she went to a wedding in Wisconsin and met her future husband. And she stuck with law and moved to Wisconsin after graduating.

She took a job at a small law firm in Madison.

“When I first started working as an actual attorney,” Schreiber said, “that was when I knew I made the right decision.”

Rural Mutual was a client, and five years ago the company offered her a job as in-house counsel.

She said her favorite part of the job is figuring out how to resolve claims and making sure the company is paying out appropriate amounts. Schreiber said she also likes the strategy that goes into trials.

“I really like working through hard problems,” she said.

Working toward an MBA in her free time fits that description. Schreiber said law school teaches people to think like lawyers, and she now needs to also think like someone in business.

Her decision to commit so much personal time to developing into a better employee isn’t lost on Dan Merk, Rural’s vice president and treasurer. He said she is a skilled attorney who has a deep understanding of insurance contracts.

But taking that next step for an MBA, he said, is going above and beyond.

“I don’t know how she does it,” he said. “It’s incredible.”


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