Partner Mina Matin on surmounting the insurmountable

Mina Matin, our US Co-Head of Insurance Disputes, is recognized as a leading practitioner in insurance and reinsurance disputes and Bermuda Form arbitrations. As well as being an accomplished partner, Mina believes in harmony in every step of her life’s journey. Here, this inspiring partner talks about taking chances, scaling Mount Everest and experiencing synchronicity in life.

Pivotal moments

Mina MatinIn 2000, I was transitioning between law firms. My dream was to see Mount Everest and I signed up to do a trek to Base Camp and Kala Patthar. This decision, which I made without ever owning hiking boots, was a turning point in my life.

When I finished the trek, a golden opportunity presented itself to move to the United States of America. I had dreamed of America as a country where entrepreneurs thrive. Without a moment’s hesitation, I dropped my legal career in London. I bought a one-way ticket to America and ended up in Montana. While I spent my time horseback riding, elk hunting and running alongside deer, my ambition was still to become a lawyer with a focus in insurance and reinsurance. My career eventually took me to Colorado, California, New York and, ultimately, Bermuda.

When I reflect back, I realize that so much of what seems unattainable at first is in fact possible and one should never lose sight of our dreams and ambitions. They can become reality through hard work, resilience, luck, dedication and determination. I left behind my home, my family and friends (at a time when I didn’t even own a cell phone) to move to Montana, where I was nobody. All I had was a seemingly unattainable resolve to become a leading partner in insurance law with a top firm in New York.

Last year, I returned to Everest Base Camp (17,598 feet) and Kala Patthar (18,519 feet). As part of my trip, I supported the Apa Sherpa Foundation and visited impoverished children, monks, nuns and women groups who live at elevations above 12,000 feet in hopes of inspiring them to have an education so they can better serve their communities and sustain themselves. I found it enriching to be in service to the Nepali communities.

I recently became belay certified, and my next goal is to learn to use ice axes and to summit a peak above 20,000 feet – which would challenge me physically, mentally and spiritually. It would be an incredibly rewarding accomplishment knowing I can surmount what seems impossible.


Mina MatinOne lesson I have learned is that sometimes there is a perfect synchronicity in our lives, even if we cannot see it at the time and it isn’t the direction in which we had planned our lives.

I never planned that I would become known for my work in Bermuda Form insurance. After living in California, I moved to New York, where I worked for a law firm as a reinsurance associate. I was looking to move firms and came across Jan Woloniecki. Jan wrote the leading textbook on “The Law of Reinsurance,” which was a book I had kept beside me throughout my career as a lawyer in England. He offered me a job working with him and his law firm in Bermuda as a senior reinsurance associate, and so I found myself moving across the Atlantic to that small island (known as “Devil’s Isle”) in the middle of nowhere.

After several idyllic years, I had the opportunity to return to New York to work at a firm that, as luck would have it, was looking for a senior insurance associate with a focus in Bermuda Form insurance cases. Most of these cases involve claims for hundreds of millions of dollars and typically, New York substantive law together with London, Bermuda or Toronto arbitration. My almost unique experience, however, gives me an unexpected edge. I’m one of the only persons (if not the only person) in the market who has actually practiced and is qualified in Bermuda, London (both as a solicitor and barrister) and New York.

Following dreams

My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse, but my childhood ambition was to be a barrister or lawyer. In some respects, I followed in my father’s footsteps by moving to different countries to follow my dream. My father lived in a small village in Bangladesh where he learned to write on slate. He sold his microscope to buy a one-way ticket from Bangladesh to England because his ambition was to study medicine and become a doctor in England. I learned from my father to pursue my dreams, like he did, with zeal and to be successful. I feel fortunate and grateful to have had the support of my parents throughout my career, even when I live so far away from home.

I strongly believe that it is important to challenge yourself continually. Doing things that are outside your comfort zone forces you to use other parts of your brain and makes you a better lawyer. I also think it is important to be intellectually curious, to think creatively and outside the box. That sets you apart as a lawyer. There is also no substitute for hard work and fully mastering and understanding a case. As a senior Queen’s Counsel once told me, “It doesn’t matter how bright you are — if you don’t do the hard work, you will never succeed.”

Harnessing creativity

Mina MatinIn 2008, I wrote a book of inspiration and poetry called “The Voice of Angles – Six Seasons to Inner Happiness.” I would meditate whilst practicing yoga and channel poetry, which I would write down on strips of paper. One day, I realized all my writings on the strips of paper fell into six seasons that we cycle through to finding inner happiness, and I weaved them together to create the book. I painted the illustrations to accompany the book.

Recently, I started working on a novel, titled “The Coconut Girl,” which is loosely based on my own life. My writing is, at times, my way of painting through words. I was told my language was too flowery as a child, but now I have given myself artistic license to write authentically in the ways that I experience things.

Leaving a legacy

I feel as though I am just starting my career all over again. I aspired to be a partner in a global law firm in New York, which I achieved. But achieving a goal doesn’t mean you should stop there. I think it is important to continually reassess, push yourself one step further and move the goalpost. My greatest achievement is thus yet to come.

I aspire to develop a lasting cross-border international practice involving other sectors of our firm’s expertise across Norton Rose Fulbright's global platform. However, I hope my legacy will also include my art, creative writing and poetry or perhaps my novel. I would also like to set up my own foundation to support and inspire diverse children across the world to have an education, including Bengali girls like myself. Had I not been fortunate to have an education, I would not be where I am today.

Mina Matin


Co-Head of Insurance Disputes, United States