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Audit Committee Chair, Executive Committee Member, Talent Committee Member and Partner, Insurance Recovery Practice Group
Reed Smith L.L.P.
When Carolyn Rosenberg joined Chicago law firm Sachnoff & Weaver Ltd. in 1984, an early assignment involved an insurance matter. She told the senior partner that she didn't know anything about insurance. "You'll enjoy the assignment," she remembers him saying. "Someday, you'll thank me for introducing you to this opportunity." Since then, she's become an expert in directors and officers liability insurance. When Sachnoff & Weaver combined with Reed Smith L.L.P. in 2007, Ms. Rosenberg became a member of firm's Executive Committee and continued as a partner in the combined firm's Insurance Recovery Practice. In July, she became the lead attorney for a Reed Smith team approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court as special counsel to address debtor coverage issues due to the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. She advises directors, risk managers, brokers, lawyers and others on topics ranging from insurance coverage to international litigation. She also contributes her insurance expertise to Reed Smith's Social and Digital Media and Cloud Computing task forces.
WHAT'S THE BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU RECEIVED
After I joined Sachnoff & Weaver in 1984, one of their partners at the time, Fay Clayton, mentored me. She was a phenomenal trial attorney, confident and accomplished. She'd watch me do depositions and offer me guidance on them, but never with anything other than a smile and constructive comments. I've remained friends with her for my entire career. She has the attitude that you should never let anybody discourage you, because you're capable of doing anything. She was so smart and quick on her feet. She was a terrific role model for how to navigate challenges and not miss a beat.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Sometimes you'll wish you had said something that you didn't, but you learn over time that there are many ways to introduce concepts and resurrect arguments. The other thing is that professional courtesy can help a great deal. Sometimes when you do a good turn for someone, they end up doing the same back for you.
OUTSIDE OF WORK AND FAMILY, WHOM DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
I've admired all the female Supreme Court justices, but I read an October ... profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the ABA Journal that I found very endearing. It said that whenever Ms. Ginsburg's son got into trouble at school, she'd get the call from the headmistress even though she was working full time. She finally told the school that the boy had a father and that they should call him. Instead of calling Ms. Ginsburg every single time, the school should alternate calls between her and her husband. As a mother, that story resonated with me. Ms. Ginsburg had the fortitude and the good sense of humor to basically arrange her life in a way that made sense and was balanced. She used her husband's skills in child rearing as well as her own. It made me smile.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I guess my first desire was to be a senator….I also had a strong interest in being a journalist. After I graduated from the University of Michigan in 1979, the Wall Street Journal offered me a full-time job on an agricultural beat in Milwaukee. Around the same time, I got accepted into the University of Michigan Law School, so I had to decide whether I wanted to continue my education or take what was then a wonderful job. I finally decided that I would rather be someone who makes news than reports it. I thought I could satisfy my desire to write and exercise my creativity as a lawyer, and it seemed it would be harder to go back to law school years later than to simply continue my education. I not only practice law full time, but I also thoroughly enjoy my practice. I'm probably one of the few lawyers that can say this.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?
As long as it's not science fiction or horror, I'm there. I enjoy a good historical movie and I like mysteries. I'm also a big lover of musicals and theater. Since my boys are interested in sports, my contribution to their education is to take them to every play and musical, ranging from "Hello Dolly" to "Guys and Dolls." In recent weeks we saw the Chicago Steppenwolf Theatre's production of the play "To Kill a Mockingbird." It was phenomenal.
WHAT'S THE MOST INTERESTING PLACE YOU'VE BEEN?
Israel. I've been there a number of times. For example, several years ago we took our kids on a trip enjoying the country from top to bottom, doing everything from going to the markets to zip-lining.
WHAT DO YOU PREFER AND WHY: PHONE OR E-MAIL?
Phone. I think e-mail doesn't give you the opportunity to connect with people and determine the nuances of expression….That said, if a client or a colleague prefers e-mail because of time pressures or otherwise, then by all means my communication would be e-mail. I'm flexible, but there are times when I prefer actual conversations.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature is our attempt to identify and recognize individuals doing exceptional work in risk management, benefits management, commercial insurance and related fields.