Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Christina A. McKinnon of McKinnon Legal in the 2020 Women in Law special issue to discuss her career and her aspirations.
AALM: When did you decide to become a lawyer and why? Did your family ever want you to be something else? What drove you to this career?
McKinnon: I made up my mind relatively early in life to become an attorney and was fearless in my pursuit of making it a reality. I remember first stating my intention to be a lawyer in elementary school and have not regretted it.
I was fortunate to have a loving family that supported me well in my academic and creative exploits. I believe I was drawn to a career in the law from being exposed to public speaking as a child. Through debate, student government and theater, I fell in love with the art of presentation at a relatively young age. While also excelling academically, becoming a lawyer was a natural choice for me.
I am grateful for the many opportunities the law has provided me along the way and for the autonomy it provides in creating my own destiny by way of helping as many people as I can.
AALM: What do you find rewarding about being an attorney?
McKinnon: I enjoy listening to people and their stories. I am humbled that they choose me to help them out of a difficult situation and am grateful when they let me know how I have made a huge impact on the trajectory of their futures. I love bringing resolution to acrimonious situations and helping post-divorce parties live better. In my experience, I have seen and heard it all. Not much surprises me, so I am confident that we can help guide the client to a peaceful and beneficial outcome based on my past experience. That, in and of itself, is extremely rewarding.
AALM: What do you find challenging about your practice? How do you overcome those challenges?
McKinnon: Finding and maintaining work-life balance is what I find the most challenging about having a law practice. I make it a point to be intentional about making time for the things and people that matter most. I find that focusing on mindfulness keeps me centered and not so focused on the stresses of having a busy practice. I am grateful for the busy practice, nonetheless.
The next steps are to onboard multiple associates to help with the caseload as it increases.
AALM: What is the one piece of advice you would give to a student or young woman attorney who would like to follow in your footsteps?
McKinnon: I would advise any young woman lawyer to get a good mentor, get to know the judiciary, cultivate good professional relationships and become an expert in one particular niche area of practice. If the goal is to grow a woman-owned firm, this will serve them well in getting excellent referrals for business with their target clients and getting repeat business.
I would also advise young women lawyers to learn the mechanics of running a small business as well. Knowledge of and the practice of law is not enough to run a successful practice. Gaining an understanding of marketing, sales, infrastructure, team building, developing systems, financial metrics and personal development are critical for growing a firm.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
McKinnon: I am presently most proud of serving on the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 17th Judicial Circuit. It is comprised of a board whose responsibility involves vetting attorneys who aspire to become judges in Broward County. This past year, I had the distinct pleasure of serving as the commission’s chair. The commission is charged with nominating the best candidates of not fewer than three persons nor more than six persons to the governor’s office for appointment to any vacancy within our circuit. I look forward to doing right by the residents of Broward County by ensuring good judges get an opportunity to serve our citizens well.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in the future? Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?
McKinnon: In five years, I hope to have my grown the firm to at least nine team members to service the greatest number of people in our areas of expertise. In 10 years, I hope to step back and take a more active role in the community in a philanthropic and charitable role. God willing, with enough hard work, dedication and a stellar team on board at the office, I believe we can turn lives around for the better in the greater South Florida community.
AALM: What traits do you think make an attorney exceptional? What’s the difference between a good attorney and an outstanding one?
McKinnon: A good attorney may not go above and beyond what is necessary for the person in completing the job. An outstanding attorney sets out to bring real value to the client. He or she is client-focused. An outstanding attorney understands that the relationship with the client never really ends and does everything possible to cultivate that relationship. I have gotten many more cases referred to my firm from former clients who not only appreciated the resolution of their issue but who also felt that I treated them with dignity, respect and compassion.