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2019 Women to Watch: Randi Ellias

Randi Elias

Randi Ellias
Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP
Age: 48

Although she hasn’t often faced what other working mothers consistently grapple with, Randi Ellias, single mom and partner in a large law firm handling insurance and reinsurance matters, is aware of the challenges facing many like herself.

“I think that when I worked with people in the past and heard of these challenges, it was always in my head my own circumstances,” she said. “That I was lucky to fall into this place where I was supported. It is not universal, so I have to remember that.”

After getting her law degree cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law, she started her legal career with boutique firm Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP in Chicago, first as a summer associate then as a law clerk, moving up to associate and then to partner. When the firm merged with Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP in 2019, she remained a partner.

The firm was a “meritocracy” from the beginning, she said, offering career advancement based on achievements.

Throughout her career, she became aware that the intersection of legal and insurance is “male-dominated,” and she sought to help change that by co-founding Women in Reinsurance.

“I think (insurance) has struggled with getting women in leadership, as with other industries,” Ms. Ellias said. “But there has been a massive progress.”

“Work-life balance is hard because I am a single mom and litigation stops for no one,” she said. “For a woman, it’s figuring out when I could turn off (my computer) for the night and be a mom at home; it’s how to be places (for work) when I need to be there at school … and not miss birthdays.”

Hilary Palazzolo, Traverse City, Michigan-based partner at The Rudnicki Firm PLLC who has worked with Ms. Ellias throughout the years, said Ms. Ellias’ work in diversity and inclusion stands out.

“Her commitment to promoting diversity in the world of reinsurance has helped to propel many women forward in their careers,” she said in an email. “I have always appreciated her creative and thoughtful ideas whether directed towards ensuring greater representation for diverse attorneys or towards helping her clients achieve their objectives.”

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