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When Judith Soltz started her legal career in the early 1970s, she interviewed with several Boston law firms and came away with the impression that they were hiring women only because of the pressure to diversify. “I didn’t want to be that one woman who was going to be under acute scrutiny,” Soltz says. So she opted for a different route, and her bet paid off. Now general counsel of CIGNA Corporation in Philadelphia, Soltz oversees 300 employees, including 100 lawyers, 65 public affairs professionals, and support staff. And her office is next door to CIGNA chairman and CEO H. Edward Hanway. After graduating from Boston College Law School in 1971, Soltz set up a small practice in the area. She then got a master’s in taxation from New York University School of Law in 1978, and, afterward, landed a job at Hartford’s Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. In the early 1980s her company merged with the Insurance Company of North America, and the merged companies were renamed CIGNA. “Tax is kind of an unusual road to the general counsel’s office,” says Soltz. “But it gave me an appreciation of how we made money and what the business priorities were.” It also helped that Soltz had a mentor: Thomas Wagner, who just retired after nine years as GC. CIGNA is now one of America’s leading providers of indemnity and managed health care coverage, as well as pension and 401(k) plans and group life, accident, and disability insurance. The company is also expanding abroad. Already, Soltz is meeting with officials from countries that have begun to privatize benefits, such as Brazil, China, and Japan. No stranger to government workings, Soltz also heads CIGNA’s civic and government affairs and press relations. Politics runs in the family: Her husband, Richard Belas, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., was a counsel to former Sen. Robert Dole. Soltz says she appreciates the “strategic importance of … bringing the disciplines [she supervises] together so that we communicate with one voice.” She regularly conducts meetings with both the legal and public affairs divisions. With managed care feeling the heat from Congress and the plaintiffs’ bar, Soltz wants to be prepared for any political fallout. She says, “The lawyers should never be caught off guard by what the public affairs people are saying.”

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