Member Monday: Deborah Solmor

General Counsel & Corporate Secretary // TCS Education System

Description of your practice:
I am the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for TCS Education System, a nonprofit system of colleges advancing student success and community impact. Our affiliates include The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Saybrook University, Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School, The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law, and Kansas Health Science Center.  TCS’ System Office provides strategic expertise and support in the areas of finance, HR, IT, marketing, enrollment services, legal affairs and compliance, student finance, and other areas that promote operational efficiencies.  Our model enables affiliate institutions to focus on what they do best — providing excellent academic and student experiences.

A great example of our model in action occurred this year in response to COVID-19. As a community, we adapted very quickly and mobilized across departments to ensure that we maintained operational effectiveness, that our students were able to stay on track toward their degree completion uninterrupted, and that our affiliates continued to thrive holistically.

My team contributes by providing comprehensive guidance and counsel on the legal, regulatory and compliance issues facing our System Office and each affiliate institution.


Why are you a member of the WBAI?
In 2014, shortly after I left a big firm law practice and went in-house, I was approached about joining the WBAI to build out its in-house counsel committee.  I jumped at the opportunity as I was looking to expand my women’s network, particularly those with in-house roles.  In addition, I have also been fortunate in my own career to be supported and mentored by some incredible women and I wanted to be able to pay it forward. I have been a committee co-chair ever since and I am proud of the programs that our committee has hosted over the years.  I also just volunteered to participate in the WBAI mentor program, and I am enjoying getting to know my mentee.


What do you think is the best way to empower women in law? 
One of the most important ways to empower women is to create networks to support our professional development and to provide each other with opportunities to collaborate and grow.  Last year, I founded a program called “Ready. Set. GC.”  With the support of several incredible sponsors, the multi-series program is designed to mentor women new to the general counsel role with content-rich programming and the opportunity to create and build a network of similarly situated and experienced general counsel.  The program launched in the fall, 2019, but was interrupted by the pandemic.  I am excited we are putting the finishing touches on the launch of the next series in Chicago shortly after the new year and have plans to expand to other cities later in the year.  Finally, while women supporting other women is a key to empowerment, I think that our networks also need to include strong male role models who are committed to advancing women in the legal profession.  There are many of them out there and we should similarly leverage their guidance.


What are you most looking forward to in the following year, personally/professionally? 
Like many, I am looking forward to when we can put COVID-19 behind us and return to a new normal and I can re-engage with friends, family and colleagues in person I am also looking forward to continuing to support TCS Education System’s newest partner institution, Kansas Health Science Center, based in Wichita, KS, whose goal is to launch a new osteopathic medical school, the proposed KHSC-Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, in 2022.


Tell us something interesting about you. 
This type of question is always hard as “interesting” is so subjective. Pre-Covid I traveled a lot for work and now with so much more time at home, I have been able to devote more time to self-care and I have embraced a regular yoga practice,  This may not seem all that interesting, but if you know me and my general frenetic pace and difficulty slowing down, you might be very interested to know that this has become a big priority for me.  I have found that committed yoga practice has truly grounded me and allowed me to create more space and peace in my day-to-day activities.