Attorney, advisor, writer, regulator, and friend. He was also Cal-OSHA Reporter’s case editor.
Mark Webb was all of these and so much more. Mark was a dedicated husband and loving partner to his wife, Christina. The two loved to travel, gourmet cooking, and fine wines and shared these passions over their twenty-five years together.
Mark passed peacefully on Easter Sunday, the result of esophageal cancer.
For the past year, he had served as Cal-OSHA Reporter’s Decisions Editor, using his sharp legal acumen to bring clarity to Appeals Board cases. Most of Mark’s professional career was in service to the workers’ comp industry, spanning more than four decades. He was in and around legislative hearing rooms, carriers’ offices, and as an independent consultant.
Mark was the font of institutional knowledge and helped shape multiple workers’ comp reform rounds. His encyclopedic-like knowledge of the Labor and Insurance codes was not limited to just rote recitation of chapter and section but went to a deep understanding of how the parts related to and worked with each other. That understanding extended into occupational safety and health. Mark was the resource to the industry, legislature, and regulators who brought a depth of the history that helped shape these regulations (sometimes disappointing him) into their current form.
“Mark was one of those rare, brilliant thought leaders who could put mysteriously disconnected pieces of a puzzle that should be connected, into a unified perspective,” says Len Welsh, former chief of Cal/OSHA’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and now a principal at the Baker & Welsh consulting firm. “He did that with safety and health, risk management, workers’ compensation, and how the government manages and mismanages all of those. I always learned from him whenever we spoke.”
“Mark was a renaissance man. He was a gourmet chef. He sang opera. He could drink a bottle of wine with dinner and have a port afterwards and still quote and interpret the Labor Code sections including parentheses, commas, and semi-colons,” remembers workers’ comp industry veteran Bill Zachry.
“Mark asked me once if I knew the difference between a souffle and a pancake. The answer was how many times you opened the oven door. When people attempted to change one section, many times they did not understand the impact it would have on the other sections of the process, but he understood this and did his best to educate them,” Zachry added.
Mark’s perspective was informed in part by his experience as a former Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Insurance. But most of his career was in the private sector, focusing on legal issues, government relations, and compliance.
Mark served as vice president of the American Insurance Association’s western region and as assistant general counsel in charge of state relations for American International Group. For a decade, Mark was vice president in charge of government relations and chief compliance officer of Pacific Compensation Insurance Company.
Mark launched Prop 23 Advisors in 2015 and ran his consulting firm for the rest of his life. Through his consulting services, Mark created and published the bi-monthly Workers’ Compensation Insider newsletter that analyzed and advised on significant developments in the California workers’ compensation system.
He was a regular columnist for Workers’ Comp Executive and the Decisions Editor for Cal-OSHA Reporter. Also, he was a frequent contributor to publications by the California Lawyers Association’s workers’ compensation section and the California Workers’ Compensation Institute. He was a peer reviewer for the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute.
Mark made many long-lasting friendships in the industry.
“Mark will be missed by me both on a personal and professional level,” says Christine Baker, former director of the Department of Industrial Relations, and the other principal at Baker & Welsh. “He was a thoughtful genius of workers’ compensation.”
Mark was undoubtedly an industry icon. His passing is among those who are ending an era.