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When I felt I had sufficiently grown in one position, I decided to explore another—whether internal or external. Each position I’ve been in has helped me learn new things, grow my experience, and broaden my view of leadership and strategy.


beyond those that you can gain from working at a firm.


Your career arc is a gradual series of steps—first in private practice, then at International Paper Company, MCI, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson. When did you know it was the right time to move to a new company? How did each new experience prepare you for the next one? Each person has different signals for when it’s time to move on. For me, I deliberately pursued career opportuni- ties that gave me greater and broader responsibilities over time. When I felt I had sufficiently grown in one posi- tion, I decided to explore another— whether internal or external. Each position I’ve been in has helped me learn new things, grow my experience, and broaden my view of leadership and strategy. And the company’s mission and vision for the future is important for me. I’ve been incredibly fortunate on the path I’ve chosen. But it’s important to recognize that each person’s path can be different. Not


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everyone needs to pursue a broad career based on diverse roles in different com- panies. Going deep in your chosen legal field is also a great way to contribute to your firm’s or company’s success while providing a rewarding career.


Obviously you have been involved in diversity efforts— you are speaking to this magazine right now. In your opinion, what’s the best driver for diversity in the legal profession? It’s hard to pick a “best” driver, but I believe that the changing demograph- ics in the U.S. will be a major force. Not only do I think a more diverse population will naturally fuel more diversity in the legal profession—I also think that a more diverse popula- tion will demand to be serviced by professionals that reflect that growing diversity. Whether you are a lawyer in a company, or a law firm, chances are that you are or will be working with a diverse customer or client base. Demonstrating an ability to truly understand the wants or needs of


that client or customer will require a diverse pool of talent whose experi- ences, knowledge, and general way of thinking can be drawn from to create the best service experience. As such, diversity is becoming a business imperative, not a “nice-to-have.”


What would you like to see more or less of from diverse law students? Today, law students of all backgrounds are pursuing their education in an environment completely different than that of twenty, ten, or even five years ago. Tere are many factors for this, but two come to the top of my mind. First, the technology is much more advanced. And I’m not just talking about smaller and faster computers; I’m also talking about social media, the digital space, and the personalization of technology. Tey consume, and share, information in unprecedented ways. Second, the sheer volume of information continues to grow exponentially. Tere is so much more available to them to frame their views of the world and their positions on the law. In this environment, diversity in terms of life experience and thought is increasingly important and desirable. I hope to see more students who can embrace a variety of different viewpoints while staying true to their core beliefs— and to the underlying laws we all serve. Tis will go a long way in any career path they pursue. D&B


Nicole Jones is executive vice president and general counsel for Cigna. Jones rejoined Cigna after serving as senior vice president and general counsel for Lincoln Financial. From 2006 to 2010, Jones was Cigna’s deputy general counsel, corporate secretary and chief counsel of domestic health service, securities, and investment law. Jones has held increasingly responsible leadership roles in corporate law depart- ments at Johnson & Johnson, MCI, Inc. and International Paper Company. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and earned a J.D. from New York University.


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