Attorney at Law Magazine writer Susan Cushing recently had the pleasure of speaking with Traci Martinez the newly named managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs Columbus office.
AALM: How long have you been with Squire Patton Boggs?
Martinez: I joined the firm as a summer associate in 2007 and joined permanently in September 2008.
AALM: What first brought you into the group?
Martinez: While a summer associate, I admired the camaraderie within the group. While everyone worked hard, there was also a lot of support from the partners in the group to develop lawyers with strong technical skills but also supporting them with business development and family responsibilities.
AALM: What do you most hope to accomplish in your new role and what insights have you gleaned from your predecessor?
Martinez: I hope to maintain the foundation of what Alex Shumate has done over the last three decades which has made our office so successful – maintaining the strong culture of the office, recruiting and retaining the best lawyers and staff, and providing excellent client service. I hope to take these three fundamentals and approach them with an insight into our newer generation of lawyers and clients, whether that is considering changes to innovative office space or using different technology to service our clients.
I hope to maintain the foundation of what Alex Shumate has done over the last three decades which has made our office so successful …
AALM: What are you most proud of accomplishing while serving on the firm’s Global Board?
Martinez: During my term, I am very proud of the inroads we made as a firm looking at what we can do to advance women into partnership. With the support of our chairman, Mark Ruehlmann and the executive committee, we launched our Advancing Women’s Task Force where I serve as Vice Chair. We have worked very hard to analyze what the firm can do better to support our women lawyers as they advance from an associate to partner. We are in the process of developing a full program that will offer business development and leadership training as well as support for family balance issues.
AALM: We understand your true passion is your role as a trial lawyer. Do you still have time for this and if so, what is most gratifying about it?
Martinez: Absolutely! While this new role will undoubtedly require my time and attention, part of the planning process before the announcement and through the next nine months will be to finish my responsibilities on the Global Board and with the Advancing Women’s Task Force so that I shift that energy to the Office Managing Partner role. I think what is most gratifying about trial is being able to combine my love of teaching (I was a former elementary school teacher before I went to law school and taught as an adjunct at Ohio State Moritz College of Law) with my legal skills to educate a group of my peers as to why the viewpoint of my client surrounding an issue is important. I strongly believe in our jury system and get so much personal satisfaction after a trial ends and obtaining a positive results for our clients.
AALM: You have worked hard to promote more diversity in the legal profession. What inroads have been made and what role have you played?
Martinez: I feel very strongly that diversity in whatever form it takes – gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc., is important to provide balanced and innovative solutions for our client’s issues. As a first generation Hispanic female professional, I understand coming into the legal profession with no real understanding of “what it takes” to succeed. I was fortunate to have a supportive family who encouraged me in whatever I strove to achieve but it could not have been done without the guidance of friends and colleagues whom I have met along my journey. I have used my experiences to help other diverse lawyers understand some of the challenges they will face (like not having a family member who can help them when they begin working in a law firm). I have also shared my experiences with others who make important decisions for attorneys like promotion and compensation to ensure they are looking at diverse candidates with a more complete picture.
AALM: What changes do you most believe need to be implemented in the corporate and legal industries to assist women in attaining leadership roles?
Martinez: Retention, retention, retention. We need to support women through the critical years after law school (years 4-9) so that they see there is a successful path forward. It is not surprising that these are the years women are getting married, having children, caring for aging parents, etc. We need to provide them with the tools and support they need to continue on their journey with the same confidence they had when they graduated from law school.
We need to support women through the critical years after law school (years 4-9) so that they see there is a successful path forward.
AALM: What advice do you have for women in law and in the business sphere?
Martinez: There has never been a better time to be a woman. We have the attention of leaders and women are moving up in the legal industry into important positions where they can make a difference. For those women who occupy influential positions remember to lend a hand and help pull a woman up!
AALM: Tell us a little about yourself and life outside the law.
Martinez: I have two children. My daughter, Briana, is in physician’s assistant school and my son, Mateo, is college. They have been with me on my college journey from teaching to law. When they were little and I was studying for the bar exam, they would spend time with me in the law school study room making their flash cards for math problems while I was doing mine for civil procedure. I have always included them in what I am working toward so they can see success when you put in hard work. Out of the working world, we LOVE to travel – even if it is just a weekend with my family in Houston or getting together at Christmas. I have a strong group of friends that I participate with in triathlons. We often relay (I love to swim!) but I am currently training for a half Ironman for a race in Michigan in June!