2017 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award
Interned with the Special Investigations Unit at CUNA Mutual Group
My name is Elizabeth Schatz and I will be graduating from UW Madison at the end of August with a BA in Sociology and Legal Studies as well as the Criminal Justice Certificate. After graduation I plan on working in the Criminal Justice field, hopefully with a non-profit, to advocate for the rights of juveniles within the criminal justice system. In a few years, maybe more, I plan on attending law school.
This summer I interned with the Special Investigations Unit at CUNA Mutual Group. SIU investigates insurance fraud, primarily disability, involuntary unemployment, and life insurance fraud. I work on a team of 6 investigators, 1 consultant, 2 other interns, and 1 manager to investigate and help prosecute members who try to steal from their Credit Unions by filing fraudulent insurance claims. These investigations are so important not just to help the company only pay what we owe but also to keep premiums down for honest customers. I began working as an SIU intern in April of 2016, working during the school year and summers. Before this summer, my (and the other interns’) roles were to triage investigation referrals and complete background checks on the members we investigated. Background checks are basically advanced social media stalking. This summer, however, I was able to take on some of my own investigations, third party litigation backgrounds, and expert witness vetting. The reason I had to wait almost a year to take on these types of investigations was because my team wanted to make sure that I understood the products and process flows as well as I could before I tackled any investigations and interactions with customers.
I’ll share a bit about one of my favorite cases that I was able to work on. A few months ago I was tasked with my very first expert witness vetting, which seemed extremely daunting. CUNA was hiring a doctor who specialized in some area of the foot to be an expert witness for one of their bigger cases. The legal team sent the information of the expert to our team and asked us to do a complete vetting of the doctor – make sure the licensure is up to date, verify that he’s never been discredited, review any other expert testimony he’s been involved in, review his entire lawsuit, civil, criminal, and financial history, etc. CUNA wanted to make sure that they were hiring someone who wouldn’t get them into hot water, and it was up to our team, specifically me, to obtain as much information on this expert as possible. It took me about two weeks to complete but I learned a lot from the experience. I refined my skills of summarizing cases, knowing what to look for in a lawsuit document, and just general investigative skills. It was experiences like this one that really made me appreciate being able to extend my internship throughout this summer.
Being awarded the Audrey J. Harris Award was an extremely humbling experience. The financial burden that was lifted due to the gracious contribution of the Harris family was immense and appreciated. I am so grateful to the Harris family for their contribution to and support of my and my peers’ education.