Name: Catalina M. Avalos
Job Title: Director, Tripp Scott
City: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
How did you attain your current position?
Hard work and a good professional reputation paid off. I knew a few of the partners at my firm from participating in various organizations in the community and I was offered an opportunity to join the firm.
Which woman inspires you and why?
While it may sound a bit cliché, my mother inspires me because she always believed in me and taught me the value of hard work and education.
What is the greatest challenge you faced in getting to where you are today?
My greatest challenge was having to start over after practicing law for 13 years. I never thought I was going to be in private practice, let alone doing civil litigation. Having been a prosecutor and a judge for over 12 years, I was comfortable in my environment until I lost the election in 2008. At that point, I had to decide whether to go back to that which I knew or start in private practice as an associate. I chose to start a new adventure and while the transition was challenging at times, I am happy that I had the opportunity to grow in my firm and ultimately become a partner. Personally, my greatest challenge was the constant struggle to balance my “mom” role with my “professional” role.
What are the unique challenges faced by women in your area of practice?
The quest to achieve balance between family and work and understanding that there never is a true balance. Additionally, the need for advancement of women to positions of leadership and encouraging and mentoring women to have active roles in high end litigation.
What will be the biggest challenge for young women lawyers in the next 10 years?
The biggest challenge for young women lawyers is recognizing the need for women attaining management roles within legal organizations and in the various firms. Also, as women in general, we need to be more assertive and not become complacent or active participants in gender stereotyping as that only hurts us in promoting women in our profession.
What can be done to accelerate gender equality?
Train the workforce regarding gender stereotyping, train women for leadership roles and promote them to management positions.
What advice do you have for young women lawyers today?
Find a mentor that will be there for you to help you navigate the different issues from work and life balance to office politics to practicing law.
In your position, what do you do to promote women in the profession?
I work closely with our new lawyers to identify opportunities that will promote them with our clients and in the community, such as inviting them to participate in speaking engagements, publishing opportunities and encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone and network. On a broader level, I promote women in the profession by always being professional and by participating in women organizations as well as other community or professional organizations.