J. Christopher Collins

Legal Administrative Assistant Christine A. Farmer


J. Christopher Collins ("Chris") joined Mirick O'Connell in October 2015 as a member of the Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Litigation Group.  Chris is known both locally and nationally for his extensive experience in litigating first party bad faith matters and insurance cases governed by ERISA.  He has managed numerous class action matters involving Securities, 401(k), False Claim Act, Retained Asset Accounts, and many dealings with insurance and ERISA-related issues.  Prior to joining the Firm, Chris was Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Unum US, the largest provider of group and individual disability insurance in the U.S. and a fast-growing voluntary insurance business with over $6B in annual revenue.  In that role, he provided counsel and managed all of the legal resources serving Unum's largest business sector.  During his tenure at the company, he helped to lead the legal department through both acquisitions and mergers and was a key participant in working to solve significant regulatory challenges facing the company in the early 2000's.

Chris' practice focuses on life and health insurance matters with a concentration on disability income insurance and will assist the Firm in client development both locally and nationally.  He will also continue to serve the community in a broad array of philanthropic activities.  Chris is very active in the Worcester community, having served on numerous boards for non-profit entities, including the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Worcester Community Foundation and Worcester Regional Research Bureau; he also currently serves as Chair of the Nativity School of Worcester and is a Council member of the American Antiquarian Society.  As lead executive on the Unum Worcester campus, he was the company liaison for many issues concerning the company and the City of Worcester, including the development of the new Unum building at City Square.

Throughout his career, Chris has been a frequent speaker and panelist at numerous industry conferences.  In 2013, he was the keynote speaker at the Definitive Disability Conference ("DDC").  In addition, he has participated at forums and events sponsored by the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Worcester.

Awards and Recognitions

  • United Way of Central Massachusetts, Orville Harold Award (2008); Aubrey K. Reid Award (2012)
  • Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance, David G. Palmgren Outstanding Business Leader Award (2005)
  • March of Dimes, Top Walker, WalkAmerica (2001)
  • Boy Scouts of America Mohegan Council, Leadership Award (2010)
  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, In-House Leader (2011)
  • UnumProvident Corporation, Humanitarian Award (2002)

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for Massachusetts
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Vermont Law School J.D. (1983)
  • College of the Holy Cross A.B. (1980)
  • Successfully obtained a favorable summary judgment on the interpretation and meaning of a “Guideline Premium Limit” in a flexible premium universal life insurance policy dispute.  This was a case of first impression for any court in the United States.
  • Favorably resolved large and complex annuity sales practices case on behalf of a national annuity carrier
  • Successfully defeated a preliminary injunction against a major life insurance company in the business law session pertaining to cost of insurance litigation


  • “Legal Year in Review,” New England Claims Association, April 2021
  • “The New (Not So) Normal,” (Panel Moderator and Program Co-Chair), Massachusetts Bar Association In-House Counsel Conference, January 28, 2021
  • Benefit of Serving in the Community,” On Air with Mirick O’Connell legal podcast, September 2020
  • Quoted in “Leadership Worcester class includes diverse group," Telegram & Gazette, August 25, 2020
  • What is Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Litigation?,” On Air with Mirick O’Connell legal podcast, June 2, 2020
  • “Important News for Insurers Managing ERISA Governed Benefit Plans. Department of Labor Extends Time for Filing of Claims and Appeals,” Mirick O’Connell Client Alert, May 1, 2020
  • “First Circuit Rules that an ERISA Claim Denial Supported by Substantial Evidence Shall be Upheld,” Mirick O’Connell Client Alert, April 9, 2020
  • “COVID-19 and Business Interruption Insurance,” Mirick O'Connell COVID-19 Legal Updates Client Alert, April 6, 2020
  • “Insurance Regulators Across the Country Respond to COVID-19 With A Variety of Approaches,” Mirick O’Connell Client Alert, April 3, 2020
  • “Residual vs. Total Disability: An Old Issue Revisited,” Defense Research Institute’s Life, Health and Disability News, June 2019
  • “Legal Year in Review: ERISA panel on DOL Disability Claims Regulations,” Professional Disability Associates Annual Conference, May 2017-2019
  • “Total v. Residual Disability: Developments in the Law 2018-2019,” Eastern Claims Conference, April 2019
  • “Legal Year in Review: Update on Life, Disability and ERISA Case Law,” New England Claims Association, April 2019
  • Merrimack College v. KPMG LLP – application of the in pare delicto doctrine to corporations and other business organizations,” Massachusetts Bar Association, 17th Annual In-House Counsel Conference, January 2019
  • "Winning Litigation Teams," Eastern Claims Conference, May 2018
  • "Legal Year in Review," New England Claims Association, April 2018ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits, 6th Edition, American Bar Association, 2018 (contributing author)
  • “Legal Year in Review,” International Claims Association’s Life, Health and Disability Committee Webinar, February 21, 201
  • “ERISA 502 (a)(3) Claims Around the Circuits," American Bar Association Mid-Winter Meeting, January 2018 (panelist)
  • “The Law of Life Insurance,” Defense Research Institute, 2017 (contributing author)
  • “Discretionary Clause Bans: Fifteen Years Later the Battles Wage On,” Defense Research Institute’s Life, Health and Disability Newsletter, August 2017
  • "The Case for Creating and Maintaining a Compliant Culture," 14th Annual In-House Counsel Conference, Massachusetts Bar Association, December 2016
  • "New Market Strategies for IDI Policies Bring Applicability of ERISA into Clearer Focus," DRI In-House Defense Quarterly, Spring 2016 (co-authored)
  • "Thoughts on Managing Risk in an Era of Increasing Regulatory Power and Oversight," Worcester Club MBA Series, March 2016
  • Quoted in "Supreme Court Blocks ERISA Lawsuit for Repayment of Exhausted Funds," WestlawNext Practitioner Insights, January 2016
  • "Controlling Litigation Costs," 13th Annual In-House Counsel Conference, Massachusetts Bar Associtation, November 2015

Professional / Community Affiliations

  • Nativity School of Worcester, , Board membership 2011-2020, Board chair (2013-2019)
  • American Antiquarian Society, Council member (2014 – present); Corporator (2012 – 2014)
  • Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Board member (2014 – present)
  • Worcester Regional Research Bureau, Board member (2000 – present); past member of the executive committee
  • Greater Worcester Community Foundation, chair; Board member (2013 – present)
  • Worcester Art Museum, past Trustee and President, Trustee Emeritus (2001 – 2010); Salisbury Society member & co-chair
  • United Way of Central Massachusetts, Campaign Chair (2002, 2010); Alexis De Tocqueville Society
  • The Bridge of Central Massachusetts, past Board member and Board President (1993-2003)
  • College of the Holy Cross, Board of Trustees, member (July 2020) President Council, Class of 1980, chair (1985-2010)
  • Worcester Fire Society
  • ArtsWorcester, Framing the Future Capital Campaign, Campaign Chair 2017 -2019