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Deborah M. Minkoff
Deborah M. Minkoff has been with Cozen O’Connor since 1984 as the firm’s go-to person for cutting-edge liability insurance issues, including general liability, excess liability and professional liability. She is the only female shareholder in the Northeast region of her firm’s global insurance department. As a member of the firm’s Women’s Initiative, she mentors an associate one-on-one, as well as a small group of female partners.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN ENTERING THIS FIELD?
Be true to your own goals, and maximize your talents and interests. Recognize that your talents and interests are unique and they’re worthy. My experience has been that women don’t realize how remarkable they are and the skill sets they can bring into a situation, and if women recognize their own talents, they’re going to recognize the value they can bring to their employers … to the business relationships with the people around them. I don’t think women give themselves enough credit.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED IN YOUR LIFE?
A clear conscience is a soft pillow. I was told that by one of my first mentors, that if you remember that every day, you’ll be able to sleep at night.
WHAT’S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT WORKING IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY?
It is that it is a great opportunity to make friends, and I really mean it. There are very few women who do what I do, insurance litigation, and I have found incredible friends among my clients, and I would have never expected that. I don’t know if it’s a secret, but I think that it’s rarely appreciated, and I think it’s especially important for women like me who work primarily with men. I’m the only female shareholder in the Northeast region in the global insurance department of Cozen O’Connor, and I have found incredible friendships among my clients that I value and cherish, and that is the truth. I enjoy spending time with them. When (Superstorm) Sandy hit, I called two of them and asked, “Do you need a place to stay?” And it wasn’t for marketing reasons.
WHAT’S THE NEXT MAJOR CHALLENGE IN YOUR BUSINESS SECTOR?
I think my challenge always is to keep on top of my cases, keep on top of trends in the law. And that’s the challenge: to always, always make sure my clients’ concerns are being satisfied or being achieved —like, what’s the case that you’re working on right now? What does your client have to be worried about next week? I try to tell people that being a litigator in insurance is like reading 20 novels at once, and whenever my phone rings, I don’t know which story I’m going to have to talk about, and I need to keep all the characters straight and I need to tell them how the story ends, even though it hasn’t happened yet. And that’s the challenge.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
I walk my dog. I recommend everybody get an active dog.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET VICE?
WHAT SKILL HAS BEEN AN UNEXPECTED AID TO YOUR CAREER?
The ability to sit still and listen.
WHAT’S at the top of your bucket list?
It’s not very exciting. I’ve never been to an opera. I really might hate it, but I’ve never done it. I’ve also never been to Italy, so I guess I want to go to an opera in Italy.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women doing outstanding work in insurance, risk management, employee benefits and related fields.