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The nation’s insurance capital — Hartford, Conn. — is a far cry from the political hubbub of Washington, D.C. But that’s a virtue, according to Neal Wolin, the new executive vice president and general counsel of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. After serving as general counsel of the U.S. Treasury during the last 15 months of the Clinton administration, Wolin says he’s “delighted not to have to deal with some of the things that go on in Washington — the congressional oversight, the ‘I gotcha’ in The Washington Post … .” At the Treasury, he also was constantly putting out fires — while supervising some 2,000 lawyers. In sharp contrast, The Hartford, he says, is “very solid, very stable.” And he’s overseeing a mere 80 lawyers, plus 90 employees in the tax and government relations areas. Wolin’s resume belies his 39 years of age; he’s been on the fast track since he graduated from Yale Law School in 1988. After clerking for Judge Eugene Nickerson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, he spent only a year and a half at Washington, D.C.’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering before joining the Central Intelligence Agency, where he became special assistant to CIA directors William Webster, Robert Gates, and R. James Woolsey. He then moved to the White House in 1993 as deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council. In 1995 he made another leap, becoming the Treasury’s deputy general counsel; in 1998 he assumed the department’s top legal spot. When he was job-hunting during the presidential elections, Wolin decided to take a pass on law firms. “I really wanted an opportunity to be a GC in a big public company,” he says. The Hartford seemed just right. Another attraction was the current expansionist mode of the company. Just recently, for example, Wolin helped the insurer complete a $1.12 billion acquisition of Fortis Financial Group, the U.S. subsidiary of Brussels-based Fortis (B). Wolin says he took the Hartford job because it allowed him “to be an adviser and counselor in a way that extended beyond the pure law function.” This was the kind of relationship Wolin had cultivated with former Treasury Secretaries Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin. Indeed, Summers, who just became president of Harvard University, sums up his former colleague’s latest career move in grand terms: “The American people’s loss is The Hartford’s gain.”

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