Portrait of


  • Yale University, B.A. (1991)
  • University of North Carolina Law School, J.D. (1994)


  • District of Columbia
Ellen MacDonald Farrell, Senior Counsel Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1 202.624.2952
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2595

Ellen MacDonald Farrell is a senior counsel in Crowell & Moring's Washington, D.C. office and a member of the Insurance/Reinsurance Group, focusing on the litigation, arbitration and negotiated resolutions of insurance and reinsurance disputes, as well as counseling on policy language and privacy and security issues.

For more than fifteen years, Ellen has represented some of the nation's largest insurers in high-stakes disputes involving the insurance industry. Ellen's recent achievements and representations include:

  • Defending an insurance group against a Fortune 100 company's claim in New York state court for insurance coverage for the company's alleged asbestos liabilities.
  • Ensuring that a policyholder complied with an agreement with its insurer as to the allocation of covered and non-covered claims.
  • Successfully capping an insurer's coverage obligations with respect to claims against a New York contractor.
  • Successfully representing an insurer in Kentucky state court with respect to a contractor's asbestos coverage claims.
  • Representing an insurance group in the liquidation proceedings involving an insolvent New Hampshire insurer.

Through her insurance practice, Ellen has helped insurers negotiate cost-share and buy-back agreements, and has advised insurers on a wide range of issues including the classification and allocation of long-tail claims, number of occurrences, equitable contribution between insurers, trigger, allocation, multi-year policy issues, alleged/missing policy issues, late notice and issues presented by "Bermuda form" policies. Ellen also counsels insurers with respect to the development of policy wording and emerging insurance issues such as those presented by traumatic brain injuries.

Through her reinsurance practice, Ellen has successfully advised companies and reinsurers on a wide range of reinsurance issues, and has also counseled companies with respect to reinsurance contract wording.

Ellen also counsels insurance companies with respect to governing state and federal security laws, and the implementation of privacy and security policies. Ellen has spoken on a variety of topics, particularly on insurance and reinsurance issues presented by data security breaches and other cyber liabilities.

Ellen is deeply committed to pro bono work. In addition to focusing on special education issues, Ellen has assisted elderly and low-income individuals with Medicare Part D issues. In 2008, Ellen contributed to the Constitution Project's report "Liberty and Security: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress," and for many years has volunteered with the Election Protection program. Finally, Ellen has acted as co-counsel to the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless in an effort to ensure that the District of Columbia comply with its obligations to provide shelter to homeless individuals and families.

Ellen graduated from Yale University in 1991 magna cum laude and with distinction in the English major. Thereafter, in 1994, Ellen graduated from the University of North Carolina law school with High Honors and as a member of Order of the Coif; she was also a staff member of the North Carolina Law Review, and is admitted to the District of Columbia Bar, and is a member of the AIDA Reinsurance and Insurance Arbitration Society (ARIAS-US) and the American Bar Association.


Admitted to practice: District of Columbia, Federal District Court of the District of Columbia

Speeches & Presentations

  • "The Privacy Cyber-Security Landscape and Cyber Insurance," IRU Next Generation Reinsurance Leadership Seminar (July 16, 2014). Speaker: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "The Cyber Insurance Market and Risk Allocation: Evolving Solutions for Escalating Risks in Cyberspace," Co-Sponsored by the ABA Public Contract Law Section's Cybersecurity, Privacy and Data Protection Committee and the ABA Science & Technology Law Section's Security, Privacy and Information Law Division (September 24, 2013). Moderator: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "The Bodily Injury Concept in Liability Policies Revisited, ABA Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee CLE Seminar (February 28, 2013). Panelist: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Cyber Risk and Insurance Coverage," First Annual West Coast AIRROC Insurance and Reinsurance Conference (September 20, 2012). Panelist: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "The Rapidly-Evolving Landscape of Cyber Risk," RAA: ReUnderwriting 2012: Building Professional Expertise Program (March 20-21, 2012). Speaker: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "LexisNexis - 2011 Global Catastrophes-Market and Insurance Coverage Considerations for Claims Professionals," Webinar (September 21, 2011). Panel Moderator: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "The Rapidly Evolving Nature of Cyber Risk," RAA ReUnderwriting Conference (July 20, 2011). Speaker: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Preparing Reinsurance Agreements for new Emerging Risks (Cyber Risk, Climate Change and Other Emerging Issues," ACI's 6th Annual Advanced Forum on Reinsurance Agreements (April 2010). Panelist: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Cyber Risk: A Primer," Underwriting Committee of the Reinsurance Association of America (October 2009). Presenters: Robin Campbell, Ellen MacDonald Farrell, and Jared Hosid.
  • "Security Breach: The Law; the Risks; the Coverage Ramifications," Emerging Issues Working Group and Claims Committee of the Reinsurance Association of America (May 2009). Presenters: Robin Campbell and Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Climate Change Litigation, Weather Events and Reinsurance Claim Handling," ReClaims: Reinsurance Claims Management for Claims Professionals by Claims Professionals (September 2008). Speaker: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • ARIAS-U.S. Intensive Arbitrator Training Workshop (March 2008). Faculty Member: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Key 'Follow Fortunes'/'Follow Settlements' Allocation Cases," ACI Pogram Reinsurance Claims and Arbitration (September 2007). Author, program materials: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Contract Wording Pitfalls/Common Errors," ReContracts: The Art of Designing Reinsurance Contracts and Programs (June 2007). Speaker: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.
  • "Grand Co. v. Super Re: a Reinsurance Claim Hypothetical," ReClaims: Reinsurance Claims Management for Claims Professionals by Claims Professionals (March 2007). Speaker: Ellen MacDonald Farrell.


Firm News & Announcements

Sep.01.2014 Crowell & Moring Promotes Five Attorneys to Senior Counsel
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