It didn't take long for Kathleen LaValle
to make her mark on the legal world. By the end of her fifth year in practice, she'd been elected partner, had tried bench and jury trials, had argued before the Texas Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and had taught as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University's law school.
Her rapid rise was all the more remarkable considering the unique challenges that women attorneys faced at the time. During one early jury trial, Ms. LaValle remembers, "The judge asked me during a recess whether I could repair a tear in his robe. It had ripped when he'd first sat down at the bench to convene the trial. I told him that my sewing talents left much to be desired, but that I could lend him my stapler."
Now a successful attorney for twenty-five years, Ms. LaValle has spent her career litigating high-stakes cases, developing winning strategies, and helping to shape applicable laws and procedures in complex commercial litigation. And that's a role that she never gets tired of playing.
"What keeps it interesting is learning about diverse industries," says Ms. LaValle, who has represented clients in industries ranging from telecommunications to manufacturing to energy to banking. "Ultimately, the litigation strategies that work best to resolve high-stakes disputes aren't peculiar to particular industries. But dedication to developing a winning strategy, whether in court or in arbitration or in mediation, is an investment, and it's my job to make sure it's a sound investment — one that makes sense in light of the overall goals of the business."
Ms. LaValle's energy and passion for her practice is a big part of her success — and a big reason why she so often achieves success for her clients. One of those clients, an in-house counsel for an international transportation company, told her why her approach to goal-oriented litigation was so important to him.
"He told me that he'd hired me because he knew having me on board would help him sleep better at night," Ms. LaValle says. "It's that confidence factor that no client should ever be without."
"Dedication to developing a winning strategy, whether in court or in arbitration or in mediation, is an investment, and it's my job to make sure it's a sound investment."
Her dedication to successful outcomes for her clients doesn't preclude her from showing her concern for the community, as well. She recently concluded a term as Board President for Dallas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a nonprofit agency that trains and supervises volunteer advocates who are assigned to cases involving children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
"It's easy to be overwhelmed by the extent of the needs," says Ms. LaValle. "But it's this simple: Do you think it's important to do something to protect and support youngsters who have been abused or neglected? If the answer is yes, click www.dallascasa.org
. That's the beginning and end of my hard sell."
It comes as no surprise that an attorney who found sustainable success so quickly would have more than enough to share — with colleagues, with clients, and with the community.
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