Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Cristina Cossio of RCC Family Law in the 2020 Women in Law special issue to discuss her career and her aspirations.
AALM: What do you find rewarding about being an attorney? What do you find challenging about your practice?
CC: As a partner in RCC Family Law, I have the opportunity to make a difference, a real difference. I empower people seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Th at is my calling and my reward. What could be better than that?
It is my challenge as well. It is a challenge to guide my clients with the objective guidance of an independent professional in matters that are filled with passion. Their relationship with family law counsel transcends other professional relationships.
They need counsel that is capable, accessible and accountable. I am charged with the responsibility to meet each client’s present legal needs while nurturing each client’s spirit. If I meet that challenge my reward is that at the end of the case my clients realize they are stronger than when they started, and secure in their future.
AALM: How is your career different today than you envisioned in law school?
CC: In law school, I envisioned law as a career that would be black and white “according to the law.” Th e reality is that there are so many factors to consider when representing each client. Family law is technicolor, not black and white. I understood that there would be well established “black letter law” but I have now experienced that in family law there are many circumstances in which there are no rules. Not only are you required to be sensitive and understanding, but you must understand that there is the law, the story the people tell themselves, and the details in between.
AALM: What first drew you to your firm? Tell us about your role there.
CC: I graduated law school in 2012 and started working with Richard J. Preira, Esq. while I was awaiting my Florida Bar exam results. Mr. Preira has been practicing family law since 1981. His expertise in family law created the ideal environment to nurture my passion for family law. Th e moment I was informed that I had passed the Florida Bar, I became his associate. We worked together and tried cases together at larger international law firms until 2017 when we opened our own boutique law firm, RCC Family Law.
We opened RCC Family Law because we felt that a small boutique law firm created a more flexible environment to handle family law matters. As a boutique law firm, we are a small close-knit group that gives personalized attention to each of our clients. Our attorneys and staff are familiar with each client. Th is gives us the opportunity to work as a unified team for the family’s best interests. We have proven our ability to best larger firms because we take command of our practice by crafting specialized agreements and case plans for each family’s specific needs.
AALM: How welcoming do you think the South Florida legal community is to women practitioners? How do you personally try to help women following in your career path?
CC: In South Florida there are many organizations and groups specifically dedicated to the advancement of women in the legal community. These groups, as well as individual personal dedication, have tremendously advanced the advocacy of women in law. Many female powerhouse attorneys have paved the way for younger generations of female lawyers to excel and continue in their footsteps to demand equal treatment in the legal community. As a member of multiple organizations and committees that are dedicated to the advancement of women in law, I never hesitate to reach out to a younger female lawyer to mentor or a more accomplished female attorney or judge for guidance. It’s also the best way to get to know colleagues and grow your practice.
AALM: Do you find that as a woman you face any challenges that men don’t?
CC: As women lawyers we are sometimes faced with a double standard based on gender stereotypes. Strong and assertive woman have been criticized for their aggressive advocacy or bold arguments when those same criticisms are not usually directed toward men. Both genders struggle with working very long hours, raising families, managing a household and having a personal life. Women oft en have to work twice as hard to find balance while simultaneously following their passion.
AALM: How do you balance your home life and work life?
CC: Balance in home and work life is especially important for family law lawyers. We handle such personal and intimate details of our client’s family life that the boundaries of a home and work life are blended. I take so much pride in the satisfaction that I make a difference for families, the satisfaction brings a natural balance between work and home life. At RCC Family Law we remain available after traditional office hours because when you are dealing with family matters, most things happen after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends. Th e client’s family does not have a cutoff time and neither do we.
AALM: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.
CC: People are usually surprised to learn that when I am not litigating family law cases, I am a yoga instructor. As part of my training to become a yoga instructor I studied asana and meditation. Clients have oft en commented that when they become anxious or unsettled about the uncertainty of their futures, I turn on my “yogi lawyer” voice to explain the potential outcome and this helps alleviate the tension of their situation.