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Tracy D. Williams

Tracy D. Williams

Tracy D. Williams
Sidley Austin L.L.P.
Age: 44

The response when you tell someone you specialize in insurance taxation may well be glazed-over eyes, acknowledges Tracy C. Williams, a partner with law firm Sidley Austin L.L.P. in Chicago whose practice focuses on federal, international and state taxation of insurers and insurance-related transactions.

But that is precisely why the subject appeals to her, she says. “It is the challenge of understanding it and explaining it to the people who don't particularly love to think about these types of questions,” said Ms. Williams. Specializing in it “gives you the presumption of competence,” she said.

Another reason Ms. Williams was drawn to this specialty, she said, is the people with whom she gets to work. They are “exceptionally smart.”

“My partners are amazing advocates for their clients,” she said. They are always “pushing, trying to innovate, trying to be creative, and I feel like that sort of give-and-take, that teamwork, is what makes us so special.”

Ms. Williams' responsibilities include all of the transactional work conducted by the law firm's insurance industry practice group. In addition, says Ms. Williams, she oversees the insurance tax controversy practice, representing companies on tax issues in disputes with government agencies.

What is fun about her job, she said, is “sitting down and working with a problem until someone says, "I have an idea.'” She also enjoys mentoring young women attorneys, “some of whom have stayed in taxes, and some of whom have moved into other areas, quite successfully.”

Ms. Williams receives high marks from client Richard J. Burness, senior vice president and global head of tax for Pembroke, Bermuda-based Athene Holding Ltd., who said she's one of a handful of people that, if I needed to do battle, I want on my side, not anybody else's.”

By Judy Greenwald