Steve Najjar’s career is proof in the power of things coming full circle. Najjar (J.D. ’92) currently serves as General Counsel and leads the health reinsurance business unit for Hannover Re, the third largest reinsurance group in the world. It’s a company he first joined in 1998, before his ‘adventure of a career’ led him to several different insurance groups around the country. In 2009, the opportunity presented itself to return to Hannover where he continues making an impact today.
Not forgetting where he started is important for Najjar, which is why he’s remained so involved with Georgia State Law. Along with serving on the Board of Visitors, Najjar also endows a scholarship that a first-year law student receives every year. He has just one request for recipients of his scholarship, “remember the opportunity you had and pay it forward when you can”.
Here, Najjar discusses what Georgia State Law means to him and how the cycle of giving back will help the college succeed for years to come.
How did you end up at Georgia State Law?
I applied to a number of law schools but decided to go to Georgia State Law for several reasons. First, the average age of the student is a little bit older, and I felt like that was more professional student environment and therefore more conducive to learning. Second, it’s located in downtown Atlanta and because of that it allows opportunities for externships to clerk for judges or work for a variety of organizations. Also, the bar passage rate even in those earlier days was competitive with other top schools. I didn’t feel like I was losing anything by going to Georgia State, but gaining a whole lot.
Is this how you imagined your career would turn out?
It’s so much more than I even hoped for. I practiced law for six years and that was wonderful but it gave me the opportunity to meet the people in the highest executive positions in the governmental, public and private organizations I was representing. That’s what gave me the introduction to Hannover, which took me on the career path ranging from legal, business, executive and c-suite positions and the wonderful adventure I’m on. It’s exciting work I do every day and I love it.
What opportunities did you have at Georgia State Law you wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere?
I will always remember my time as a graduate research assistant for professor Corneill Stephens. I also did two externships, one with the late Marvin Schoob, who was a US District Court Judge and one with Leah Ward Sears, a superior court judge at the time. She went on to become the first black female Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. I know I would not have gotten those wonderful opportunities if I had gone anywhere else.
Why is it important for you to stay involved with the Georgia State Law community?
I want to see the College of Law continue to thrive and the young people coming up through Georgia State succeed. Most people go through life trying to achieve success in their career. That only takes you so far. You should also seek significance, which I believe you accomplish only by giving back, and doing that as much as you can. There’s no greater fulfillment than serving and supporting others.
Interview by Mara Thompson