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Carr Maloney P.C.
As a 19-year-old, Jan E. Simonsen, an equity member at law firm Carr Maloney P.C. in Washington, was a secretary for a very small law firm in Virginia Beach, Va. There, she was answering the phone, drafting pleadings and “doing everything else” when she realized “I could do it all myself.” She went on to earn her paralegal degree, finish college at Northeastern University in Boston and receive her law degree at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt. Ms. Simonsen joined Carr Malone 24 years ago, where she litigates matters involving complex liability claims, retail litigation, mass tort litigation, professional liability, product liability and commercial litigation. She represents several large retailers as well as other large business entities, including homebuilders and manufacturers. Over the past several years, she has been recognized by her peers for inclusion in “The Best Lawyers in America” publication, and she has been lead counsel in numerous jury and nonjury trials, as well as in arbitrations.
What's your advice for women entering this field?
Know yourself, be true to yourself, be yourself, and keep a good sense of humor.
What attracted you to this industry?
The litigation that I do. And what I really love about it is, I learn something new every day. There are no two cases that are the same. There are no two issues that are the same. With insurance work, it's a lot of risk assessment and managing expectations, which I enjoy.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
My clients, meeting them, getting to know them, growing with them, understanding their needs and helping them with the issues that they have — the insurance clients as well as the noninsurance clients, and the insureds.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
I think it's being yourself. If you stand before 12 people before a jury and you are trying to be something you're not, they will see through it. If you try to be something you're not to opposing counsel or to your clients or to your partners, people see through that. So I think it's very important to be yourself.
Outside of family, what woman has been your role model?
Her name was Margaret Haywood. She was the first African-American woman to be appointed to the District of Columbia Superior Court. I clerked for her. She was an incredible woman, led an incredible life and never lost her sense of humor. She actually married my husband and me. She passed away about 10 years ago, but she was an amazing woman.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
To travel more with my family.
What's your secret vice?
I don't think I have any secret vices. I do love good food and good wine, and I love to run. All of those things keep me sane. And I like to sing, but not in public — in the shower, the car, the elevator, with my (14-year-old) son.
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.