In 1976, Barger & Wolen LLP opened its doors in Los Angeles, California. Under the leadership of Richards D. Barger (1928-2016), California’s Insurance Commissioner under Governor Ronald Reagan and former President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and Alan Wolen, a corporate and securities insurance attorney, the firm quickly expanded to San Francisco and Newport Beach.
Barger has always been recognized for its insurance regulatory, insurance litigation and insurance corporate practices. As insurance companies throughout the United States sought to expand into California, Barger grew to become one of the largest insurance law boutiques in the country. During this time, the firm saw its regulatory and corporate practices flourish with the formation of new insurers, as well as existing insurers seeking licenses to operate or write particular business within the state.
The passage of California’s Proposition 103 in 1988 brought about a new era in insurance regulation for the state, and the insurance companies operating within its borders. For the first time, under Proposition 103, the insurance commissioner became an elected position, and the Department of Insurance grew from 200 to 1200 employees. During the two-year implementation of Proposition 103, Barger represented more than 60 insurers in connection with the rate rollback proceedings, and prior approval regulations. Barger's administrative practice also expanded as the firm was involved in the majority of the key Proposition 103 related cases in California.
The 1990s saw Barger's life, health and disability group grow to become a premier practice within the firm. For nearly 25 years, the firm’s life, health and disability attorneys have been involved with extensive litigation involving first party bad faith actions, as well as key appellate decisions, legislation and regulations throughout the state. As managed care and the Affordable Care Act have changed the landscape of health care, Barger's attorneys met the challenges of advising insurers in connection with these new and complex areas of law.
In 1997, Barger's New York office opened, focusing on reinsurance litigation in New York and Europe. This practice expanded to London in 2011. In 2012, the Sacramento office opened to assist the insurance regulatory practice in legislative and administrative matters on behalf of insurer and agent trade association clients.