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LatAm in Focus: Breaking Gender Norms in the Field of Law

Cristina López in New York for an AS/COA conference

Cristina López at the Women's Hemispheric Network conference. (Image: Roey Yohai Photography)

October 19, 2016

Top Panama law firm, @Lovillpanama, is run by women—not because they don’t want men, women just have the better CVs
"Don’t be afraid if you want to do something on your own." — @Lovillpanama's Cristina López on starting a law firm

Nine years ago, Cristina López and a group of women colleagues broke a gender norm when they founded a law firm. Since then, LOVILL-LatamLex has become one of Panama’s leading law firms and it continues to be run by women—not because they don’t want men in top roles, but because, as López puts it, they keep getting better resumes from women.

“We’re getting a lot of CVs of very, very prepared women that see a space in our firm to be who they are,” López told AS/COA Online’s Carin Zissis on the sidelines of the Women’s Hemispheric Network’s fifth annual leadership conference in New York. At her firm, “you’re very free to be a woman. And that does not mean that you’re wearing pink when you go to work.” Instead, it means being afforded the chance to strike a work-life balance while managing time to effectively accomplish work tasks. López says she and her colleagues never felt limited by their gender and took their firm regional in Central America by building equal partnerships.

"Don’t be afraid if you want to do something on your own.

Still, 90 percent of their clients are men, which she attributes to a lack of women in entrepreneurial or leadership roles. López says she hopes to see that ratio change when she looks across the conference table. “I would like to see more women leading the meetings,” she said. “A lot of times I see a man and the second one is a brilliant woman standing right at the right hand…A lot of the time she is the one coming up with the ideas, but she is not the one who is actually saying it out loud.”