2006 Women to Watch: Lori S. NugentPosted On: Oct. 8, 2006 12:00 AM CST
Partner and Head of the Enterprise Risk Management Group
Cozen O'Connor P.C.
Lori S. Nugent, voted Illinois’ "Super Lawyer" in 2005 and 2006 by her bar association peers, focuses on insurance, reinsurance, e-commerce and punitive damages issues. She is admitted to practice in Illinois and before the federal appellate courts for the 7th Circuit, based in Chicago, and the 8th Circuit, based in St. Louis. She co-wrote "Punitive Damages: A State-by-State Guide to Law and Practice," published in 2004, and "@Risk: Internet and E-commerce Insurance and Reinsurance Legal Issues," published in 2000. Before joining Cozen O’Connor in 2000, she was a partner with Blatt, Hammesfahr & Eaton beginning in 1994, and before that she was an attorney with Peterson & Ross, both in Chicago.
Q: If you had the ability to change one thing about the industry what would it be?
A: "I see it happening a little already as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley and enterprise risk management. A lot better results are obtained when company executives don’t restrict themselves to rigid silos of operation. One of the neat things about SOX compliance is that companies are encouraging that kind of thinking outside of their operating units to address overarching problems that, at the end of the day, can save the company millions."
Q: What advice would you give young women entering the industry today?
A: "Don’t be discouraged. There are opportunities. It takes persistence and confidence, and it is really important to find a mentor. And it doesn’t have to be a female, but someone you can trust, whose judgment you respect. It’s also important to be flexible and find creative solutions," especially regarding conflicts between one’s family matters and professional life.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
A: One of the two most influential individuals in Ms. Nugent’s career was Robert Hammesfahr, who was a partner with the law firms where Ms. Nugent practiced throughout her career, including Cozen O’Connor. Mr. Hammesfahr asked Ms. Nugent to update an article on punitive damages, a project that evolved into a book that the two co-wrote in 1991 and have updated several times—most recently in 2004. "He encouraged my creativity and helped me to channel it in ways that made a real difference in the insurance and legal community, which obviously has furthered my career as well." The other influential person was Ms. Nugent’s husband. "My husband was incredibly helpful and supportive. I think it’s very difficult for a woman to succeed in an in industry without the support of a strong husband or strong family or a network of friends. It’s nothing you can do on your own. You need a sounding board, and you need somebody who believes in you, especially during the times when you’re not convinced you can do it yourself."