Cristina Alonso’s impact as an appellate attorney extends from the corporate offices of companies such as Ford Motor Co. to the homes of same-sex couples seeking legal recognition of their rights as adoptive parents.

A Carlton Fields partner, the Miami-based Alonso, 36, has carved a successful niche for the past nine years in appellate work and trial support in the areas of products liability, health care, complex commercial litigation and mass tort litigation. At the same time, she has built a community and pro bono reputation by taking leadership roles in state, local, Hispanic and Cuban-American bar associations and by answering calls for help from Florida Legal Services and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“I do enjoy the writing and oral argument,” said Alonso, a New York native and a graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law. “My appellate practice is maybe a little different from the average appellate practice.…I go with trial lawyers to address any appellate issues or post-trial motions that stem from the case. That allows me to have a different perspective from the beginning of a case and even before the trial stage. For some clients, I do that on a statewide basis where I work with outside counsel. I’m their person in court to make sure they understand Florida law and procedure and that we’re advancing the law in a way that benefits the client.”

In 2009, Alonso and co-counsel John Blue won national recognition for their victory in Embry v. Ryan in which Florida’s 2d District Court of Appeal unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and held that Florida must give full faith and credit to adoptions granted to same-sex couples by other states. “I was just really lucky to land at a great firm and have the opportunity to work with partners I really like and also admire,” she said.

— Marcia Coyle