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2017 Women to Watch: Carolyn F. O’Connor

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Carolyn F. O’Connor
Regional managing partner
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker L.L.P.
Florham Park, New Jersey
Age: 55

When Carolyn F. O’Connor, regional managing partner based in Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker L.L.P.’s Florham Park, New Jersey, office, wants to spread some good news in the office, she uses a bull horn.

“It’s actually one of the ways I energize my people” when the office hits various goals, said Ms. O’Connor.

The bull horn “fits her personality and style,” said Thomas F. Quinn, a partner in the Florham Park office. “It’s part of caring and being exuberant.”

“She has boundless optimism and energy” while taking a “realistic and pragmatic view toward every problem and very effectively addressing them,” said Chicago-based Wilson Elser Chairman Daniel J. McMahon. “She is someone who is always looking for a way to bring sunshine into people’s days.” 

Ms. O’Connor, a New Jersey native, graduated from the Rutgers University law school in Newark, New Jersey, and was immediately hired by Wilson Elser. She just celebrated her 30th anniversary with the firm.

“It’s a great place to work,” she said. “I am a huge believer in making your own environment the best you can be. I’m not one of those people who are always looking for greener pastures.” She also enjoys her job, which involves representing clients in toxic tort cases, with large petrochemical firms among them. “I love working with clients that involve me in their decision-making process for large-risk, high-volume matters, like handling entire dockets of litigation,” she said.

Ms. O’Connor is a champion of the firmwide women’s initiative, Women Attorneys Valued and Empowered, which was launched in October 2015. She was also selected as chair of the firm’s pro bono committee when it was launched several years ago.

But for all her professional accomplishments, Ms. O’Connor considers her biggest achievement to be the birth of her son Charlie, 20, now a college student, who is named after her husband of 27 years, who works as a limousine driver. “He has been the center of our world since he was born,” said Ms. O’Connor.

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