Bridget Lopez’s journey to Managing Partner of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson’s Dallas office was a competitive and strenuous interview process.
Lopez was the youngest of five colleagues with the least amount of tenure vying for the role. In 2014, she landed the position and became the firm’s first Hispanic managing partner in Dallas. Her predecessor, a female African American, led the Dallas office as managing partner for more than 25 years.
She credits hard work and her firm’s long embrace of diversity, equity, and inclusion as the reasons for her quick rise.
“I really feel like if you work hard and open yourself up to working with other people and you’re a strategic thinker, you will go really far,” Lopez said.
Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson (LGBS) is the nation’s largest collection firm with 47 offices in 12 states. Sixty percent of the firm’s nine-person board of directors are people of color, and it includes five men and four women. Lopez attributes the firm’s rapid growth and national success to its attention to diversity and inclusion initiatives from the top-down and across the organization.
“Diversity makes you even more interesting and valuable to clients,” Lopez said. “Your goal should be that your board needs to reflect society. If it is a priority, you have to try hard to achieve it.”
The Dallas office is 70 percent women. Lopez, who was recruited to the firm by a female managing partner, said the firm’s belief in diversity and having women in positions of leadership is one of the reasons she left her role as a prosecutor at the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in 2004.
Lopez’s promotion from a docket-level associate attorney to an administrative attorney overseeing the Litigation Division after just two-and-a-half years with the firm came from a female partner.
“My boss was a partner and she recommended me to take over the Litigation Division. At that time, she believed in me more than I believed in myself,” Lopez said.
Lopez was made an equity partner in the firm one week after returning from a three-month maternity leave with her second child. She said she knew her firm was a place that would support her and not limit her potential to grow.
“Our firm really respects women in the workplace and how audacious and awesome we are,” she said. “We can balance work, a family, and be leaders in our community because we are nurturing in all of our relationships, and we see that as a strength.”
Today, as Managing Partner of the Dallas office and an equity partner, Lopez also oversees New York City and Boston offices, she chairs the firm’s Public Affairs Committee, and sits on the firm’s Management Committee, which oversees all firm operations.
She believes diversity and equality are not only the right thing to do, but it is the best business decision a company can make. Diversity makes a company more attractive and interesting for recruiting talent and attracting business, she said.
“If your company isn’t diverse, you’re essentially ignoring segments of society that can make a big difference in your bottom line—and not just in the short term, but in the long term,” she said. “It’s very powerful and impressive when you see people from all backgrounds come together to collaborate. All of our thoughts and perspectives make us stronger.”
‘Know Who You Are and Where You Belong’
Lopez, the first in her family to graduate college, is no stranger to hard work, overcoming racial and gender inequalities from the time she was a little girl, during her career as a young Hispanic female attorney, and even today. The experiences have motivated her, helped shape her career, and she sees them as an advantage to surprise people.
“As people of color, we are fair people because we have been exposed to or experienced racism throughout our life, so we can see all perspectives and we can be fair,” Lopez said. “Know who you are and where you belong. Don’t let people define who you are. Embracing who you are is important to your success.”
She grew up in Woodrow, a small farming community south of Lubbock, Texas, where her family still resides today. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science and law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.
“My parents raised me to work really hard,” Lopez said. “My parents always said, ‘Bridget it doesn’t matter what you do. If you’re cleaning a restaurant or carpet, you must do it well and be the best at it.’”
While staring at a letter from the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office that she was not going to be hired for a prosecutor role for which she had applied and interviewed, she received a call from the then-District Attorney offering her the job.
“I didn’t say anything about the letter, and I just accepted,” she said laughing.
In December 1999, she began her career as a prosecutor working in the child abuse and family violence divisions. With more than 225 lawyers, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office is the largest law firm in the city. While there were many women in the office at the time, not many were people of color, Lopez said.
“I think my bilingual background was one of the main reasons I was hired. I could speak to the clients, children, and families we were representing,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to try challenging and high-profile cases. Though it was a difficult and tough environment, it was really a great experience, and I would do it again in a second.”
At 27, she served on the City of Dallas Redistricting Commission to create a boundary map for Dallas City Council Districts that reflected Dallas’ diverse population and balanced representation in voting districts. She was the youngest person on the commission by 20 years, and it was her introduction to volunteer public service work in Dallas.
“I have always tried to bring people together,” she said. “I’ve always had this skill where I can effectively collaborate and connect different people’s thoughts and ideas.”
That skillset, hard work, and aligning her career with a firm that believed in equal opportunity for women and people of color have allowed Lopez to excel in her career.
“The most important thing is to figure out where you want to go and hold on to your values,” she said.
A version of this story first appeared on the Dallas Regional Chamber site. Dallas Innovates is a collaboration of D Magazine Partners and the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Views and opinions expressed by Voices contributors are their own.
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