SHARON LOPEZ

As the vice president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Lopez will be the first Latina president of the association. She founded the Triquetra Law Firm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 2006. Lopez represents workers and victims of discrimination and civil rights laws. Born in Mexico City, she spent her preschool years in Mexico and Uraguay, South America before moving to the United States where her father became a naturalized citizen. A Widener University School of Law graduate, she began working at the local legal services office, now known as MidPenn Legal Services in her first year of law school.

What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?

I would have been a social worker. I studied sociology and Spanish in college and almost immediately started working in social services when I graduated. I loved empowering underprivileged people but I quickly became frustrated with the lack of resources to achieve empowerment. I knew then that I would need to return to school to gain skills to improve the lives of others in my community.

Name a mentor or someone you admire.

I have many mentors and sponsors, both in the legal profession and outside the legal profession.

Mary Clinton is one of my non-legal mentors. She was the first woman supervisor for a local municipality. She was one of the first female appraisers in Pennsylvania. She was a member of the Lancaster County Commission on Women. Although we did not share the same political party affiliation I learned the art of compromise and the importance of parliamentary procedure from her.

Michael Goldberg is a legal mentor of mine. He taught me that working for excellence had to incorporate truly understanding your client’s goals and being sensitive to the many permutations and limitations the poor people and survivors of domestic violence deal with when overcoming barriers to achieve those goal. 

My aspirational legal mentor is Charles Hamilton Houston, the Dean of Howard Law School, mentor to Justice Thurgood Marshall, and architect to Brown v. Board of Education.  He said a lawyer who is not a social engineer is a parasite on society. I strive to be a perceptive, sensitive highly skilled attorney that works to improve the lives of the underprivileged in my community.

What is the best advice you ever got?

As a lawyer, the best advice I received is from Michael Goldberg, “It’s your client who wins and loses the case.  You are their advocate.”

As a mother the best advice I received was from Kahil Gibran’s poem, “The Prophet, On Children.”

“Your children are not your children … although they come through you, they belong not to you … you can strive to be like them, but you cannot make them just like you.”

In 50 words or less, what does the legal profession need to do to improve opportunities for women lawyers.

We need to advance the three following objectives: 1) promote more women as role models for leadership opportunities; 2) identify potential stars in our law offices, bar associations and political offices and sponsor them; and 3) assess organizations and associations we are members of for transparency and pathways to leadership and invest in those that promote women as leaders.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give someone when dealing with a crisis?

Return to our systems that work!

It is the small things that are done consistently that matter so when you are in a crisis, stop, breathe and return to you systems and change one thing at a time and only if it truly requires change. After all, you’ve come this far successfully so your systems work.  •