I am honored to be the newly elected President of the Coastal Bend Women Lawyers Association. As our organization enters its 28th year of existence I believe it’s time to examine our role in this community and whether we are doing everything we can to provide opportunities to women lawyers that enhance, support and enrich the practice of law. In furtherance of this self-evaluation I have set an ambitious agenda for this fiscal year. I am hopeful that this will be a year of many firsts for our evolving association. It began with the launch of our new website. And as we now begin our new fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th), I have started this blog that I hope will help us get to know the women in our legal community who are doing some great things. As we get to know so many of these great women it is my hope that we see that our diversity in law and in life is our greatest strength.
I thought I’d begin by just introducing myself to you and share my history. I was born and raised in Corpus Christi. I grew up in central Corpus Christi to parents that worked very hard to provide stability for me and my brother. Educational achievement was not a priority. Graduation from high school was expected but anything beyond that was a bonus. It’s not that they didn’t care about education they just didn’t have the information needed to convey more to their children. I stumbled into the legal field after high school when my mom’s friend suggested I get into “paralegal” studies which at the time was an emerging field. I did and I soon found myself enjoying the study of law. I graduated from Del Mar with an Associates degree in Legal Assisting. Within a short time I found my first job as a legal assistant working at a local Law Firm. During my tenure there I met a young ambitious attorney who eventually left the firm and offered me a job to help him open his own law office. I ended up working with him for 5 years. About 3 years into my job I made the crazy decision to go back to school to get my bachelors degree and possibly apply to law school. I credit that decision with the mentorship and support I received from my boss who made me believe that I could accomplish this goal. When I went back to school I suddenly found myself more determined and focused than ever before. In two years I finished my studies and graduated with honors from Texas A&M Corpus Christi. I applied to law schools and decided to accept the offer from St. Mary’s University School of Law. As of all of that was not enough, in the midst of all those life changes I also married, divorced, came out to my parents as gay and met a woman with 3 children who I raised for ten years. Unfortunately that relationship came to an end shortly after I finished law school. I am now engaged to my fiancee, Anna Lopez, who I’ve been with for the past 6 years. We will marry in March 2017. That is my foundation. My diversity in life.
I am entering my 14th year of practice and my career has been just as diverse. I have worked for a civil insurance defense firm, as in-house counsel for a medical practice, as an assistant attorney general in the child support division and as a solo practitioner. I even threw in a judicial campaign stint in this last primary election. This vast experience has introduced to many different people in different fields with different backgrounds, different viewpoints, different politics, different religions, and different beliefs. But we share a love of the law. That’s my diversity in law.
I remember the days (during my years as a paralegal) when there were no female Judges on the bench. I remember the days when there were no Hispanic female Judges. And then as the first woman on the bench broke that barrier (Hon. Rene Haas) and shortly after that the first Hispanic female Judge (Hon. Hilda Tagle), we started to finally see a wave of women getting elected in Nueces County. These women are groundbreakers. I am only one of probably many who looked to them as role models, as people who dared to disrupt the status quo and refused to give in to doubt and fear.
As you might be able to guess from the title of our blog, women now make up 35% of the Texas Bar. I invite any of you who are interested in writing an article on a topic of interest to publish on our blog to contact us. I am hoping that as we get to know more of the people in our legal community over the next year that we will realize truly how our strength comes from our diversity.