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Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg L.L.P.
Angela R. Elbert is a partner in Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg L.L.P.'s general and commercial litigation group and chair of its insurance policyholder practice group's directors and officers practice in Chicago, where she focuses on commercial and professional insurance policyholder representation. Ms. Elbert, who grew up in Louisville, Ky., graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Ind., in 1993 with a B.A. in history. She decided to go to law school after considering what she could do with her history major, and graduated from Indiana University's School of Law. As a young attorney, Ms. Elbert became interested in insurance thanks to a mentor, John S Vishneski III, now a partner with Reed Smith L.L.P. in Washington, who was “really passionate about it,” Ms. Elbert said. She has received numerous awards, including being the only woman listed in the rating service Super Lawyers' Top 10 Illinois Super Lawyers 2013.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
My advice would be to get connected and network with as many people as you can at an early age, particularly with other women, because there just aren't as many of us in this industry; but don't forget about the men, because they're strong allies to have as well. I would also suggest learning your trade, learning everything you can about the insurance industry, because the more you know, the better you can serve your clients.
What attracted you to this industry?
The complexity of it. It's never boring, always interesting, always something different; and I work with all industry groups and clients that are big and small, public and private. I get to see a lot of different companies and worlds, and it's fun to learn about them. Sometimes working your way through an insurance problem is like working a puzzle, and I love to work puzzles.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Helping others, helping them to get what they paid for by finding insurance, helping them get their insurance company to live up to their agreement to pay coverage that should be there. Another part of my job is negotiating better insurance on the front end to try to avoid problems on the back end with claims.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
To face your fears, and go after things in spite of them.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
I would say that person is my law partner, Jill Berkeley. She's a past recipient of this award. Being a partner in a law firm is a really tough position that very few women achieve and do well, and she's managed to do all of that and do it her way. And she's just really smart and tough and good, and I learn something new from her every day.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
I don't really think about things that way. I do the things I want to do all the time. I just want to do the things I want to do every day. I'm doing it all right now. It's a really hard thing to do, but I really try to live in the present.
What's your secret vice?
Lately it's “Candy Crush.” It's one of those apps that are on your iPhone. It's a total waste of time, but sometimes you get addicted to these things. My husband introduced it to me. Completely stupid, but fun. Don't play it, because you'll blame me when you're addicted to it.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women who are doing outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk and benefits management, and related fields, including consulting and law.