Attorney at Law Magazine Miami publisher Rhenne Leon sat down with Marilee A. Mark of Cimo Mazer Mark PLLC to discuss her career and her plans for the future in the 2018 Women in Law special issue.
AALM: When did you decide to become a lawyer and why?
Marilee A. Mark: For as long as I can remember, even as a child, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I am not exactly sure where the idea came from, as there were no lawyers in my family. I was the first one. I have always had an innate fascination and passion for learning, the law, and achieving justice. Growing up I was very fortunate to have parents who raised me to believe, and know, that with hard work and determination, I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
AALM: What do you find rewarding about being an attorney? What do you find challenging about your practice? How do you overcome those challenges?
Marilee A. Mark: As a bankruptcy and insolvency litigator, I primarily represent fiduciaries in the prosecution of director and officer liability, professional liability, avoidance, bank liability, and other complex litigation. The recoveries obtained from these litigation claims provide creditors, who have been financially harmed, and some of which have been victims of fraud, with redress for the damage they have suffered. This is extremely rewarding. One of the challenges I always face is the desire to obtain a 100 percent distribution to creditors of each fiduciary estate. That is always my goal. I strive to overcome this challenge by implementing creative and effective strategies to maximize litigation recoveries for my fiduciary clients.
AALM: How supportive are fellow women practitioners? How do you personally try to help women following in your career path?
Marilee A. Mark: My fellow bankruptcy and insolvency women practitioners are nothing short of amazing. Several years ago, some of the most successful and prominent female bankruptcy attorneys in South Florida and nationwide, two of whom are now federal bankruptcy judges, formed a “Lean In Lunch Group.” The goal was to connect with women in the insolvency practice over lunch, discuss challenges in our practices and ways in which we could assist each other in achieving success, provide mentoring, and facilitate business development opportunities. I was honored to be involved in this group, which included women practitioners at all stages of their careers, and which gave me the opportunity to both receive and provide advice and mentoring. I endeavor to pay this forward every day.
AALM: Do you find that as a woman you face any challenges that men don’t?
Marilee A. Mark: Definitely. While the legal profession has come a long way, there are still stereotypes and preconceptions to overcome. I remember as a young attorney arriving at a deposition in New York City. When my male opposing counsel came to the lobby, he walked up to me and said, “Oh, you must be the court reporter.” That stuck with me. At the same time, however, this was nothing new. Just as I am a driven woman, I was a driven girl, and I have experienced situations like this throughout my life. But I don’t let it phase me. When people underestimate me, I gain the advantage.
AALM: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.
Marilee A. Mark: I am not a natural blonde.
AALM: How are you involved in the legal community and the local community?
Marilee A. Mark: Life is all about relationships, progress, and giving back, so professional and community involvement are critical. I currently serve as a director of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC), Florida Chapter. IWIRC is committed to the connection, promotion, and success of women in the insolvency and restructuring professions, and provides an international platform to do so.
I also serve as a director of the Bankruptcy Bar Association for the Southern District of Florida, which provides the opportunity to assist in improving our local bankruptcy bar while connecting with fellow local bankruptcy practitioners.
Finally, I proudly serve as a member of the Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. campaign committee. For over 50 years, this organization has been a powerful advocate for equal justice and access to legal representation in our community. I am honored to contribute to this worthy cause.
AALM: What compelled you to start your own practice.
Marilee A. Mark: My entrepreneurial spirit, which I got from my father, but unlike him, mine developed over time. Early on in my career, and throughout my life, I was very risk-averse. Prior to forming Cimo Mazer Mark, I was lucky to work at two excellent firms, on complex matters, with wonderful colleagues. I achieved much success at my prior firms, including making partner, and I am thankful for the opportunities that were given to me. Forming my own law firm was the natural next step for me. The next challenge.