Chimdi Tuffs, Partner at Gfeller Laurie LLP
Tuffs talks about her background and the unique practice she is building, shares her thoughts on what it means to find balance in life and work, and gives her perspective on being a successful Black woman in insurance law.
DEVELOPING A UNIQUE PRACTICE
Tuffs began her legal career as a city prosecutor before becoming a civil litigator. Now, she says, “I am developing a practice that is founded on being especially knowledgeable about the intersection of the civil and criminal, since my legal background and personal background allow me to navigate both in an interesting way and from a unique perspective.”
“I have a superpower for predicting outcomes that aren’t always what people want to hear, but it often shields them from whatever fears they have. I learned that meaningful, regular communication makes a huge difference to a client when prior outside counsel hasn’t met that expectation before.”
Tuffs, on her secret for reaching realistic outcomes for both insurers and insureds.
Tuffs shares her perspective on challenging race and gender assumptions: “All individuals should be judged on our actions without preconceived notions [and] ideas certain people have in their head about what we are like. There is no one way to be Black in America or in the world. Navigating these challenges takes changing the assumptions that certain people make. I work to challenge myself to do this work every day.”
“Humility is the best quality to have as a leader, in my opinion. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you become unapproachable, or you will miss out onimportant information. I admit when I don’t know the answer to something, I admit when someone has a better idea than I do, and I leave the door open for people to feel comfortable enough to share ideas and ask lots of questions.”
Tuffs, on her leadership tips.
Tuffs shares how she keeps her expert status and gains an edge when it comes to marketing herself and her firm: “I attend and speak at a lot of conferences. I serve as a legal expert for a local TV news station in Philadelphia. I discovered once I became a partner that I had a passion for marketing that maybe stems from my prior life as a dancer. …[M]arketingdefinitely correlates well with a performance background.”
“Although I prefer to be in the office, the ability to work from anywhere and send emails after bedtime has been a great help. I am sure these challenges are shared with [the CLM] readership. We all find ways to make it work. I won’t pretend it’s all perfect, though. I admit I forgot about my son’s pajama day last week.”