By Janet Wallace • March 17, 2015•Features, Guest Bloggers and Profiles of Women in the Law
From a tiny office in rural Alaska to a skyscraper in Manhattan, from The Sunshine State to The Prairie State, Ms. JD's Attorneys Across America series seeks to capture snapshots of successful women attorneys practicing law from sea to shining sea. Ms. JD had a few questions for Lacey Corona who is practicing law in Destin, Florida.
Where do you practice law?
I practice law in Destin, Florida for Broad and Cassel. Destin is located in Northwest Florida.
Describe your legal market. What is the size of the market? How would you describe the culture?
The legal market in this area is fairly small. However, as the economy continues to improve, more and more development is happening along the Gulf Coast, thus generating more legal work. The legal culture here is friendly and congenial. There are a lot of young attorneys in the area, so it is nice to have other attorneys my age that I can easily reach out to for questions or advice.
What are the industries that produce work for lawyers in your area?
Our region runs along the beautiful Gulf Coast, so tourism creates a lot of transactional work for attorneys in the areas of real estate, business, land use, and construction. Similarly, there is litigation work in those areas too. Eglin Air Force Base, one of the largest in the world, is also nearby and generates legal work related to defense contracting and government bid protests.
Describe your practice area.
My main practice area is commercial litigation. However, I also have experience in employment, construction, and healthcare litigation, along with the government bid protest process on both the government and the business side.
How did you get started in this practice area?
I was always interested in litigation and being in the courtroom. I have been fortunate to work with different partners who have various specialties, so I have learned the intricacies about different areas of law. Prior to working at Broad and Cassel, I knew nothing about construction or healthcare law, but was asked by partners in these areas to assist with various research projects or lawsuits. I never would have independently considered practicing in these areas and at first I felt very overwhelmed by the new statutes, rules, and codes to learn, but now I really enjoy working in these areas.
Do you think your practice is different because of where you live? If so, in what way(s)?
My practice is different because of where I live and is also different from most other attorneys in the area. My practice is different because of where I live to the extent that my local work is generally slower –paced. I rarely have any client or litigation "emergencies" like an associate working in a large city would regularly have. My practice is also different than most other attorneys in this area. The vast majority of the firms in Northwest Florida have either one or a few offices and their practice is wholly comprised of local work. My office is small – only myself and one other attorney, but Broad and Cassel has 8 offices throughout Florida and employs almost 200 attorneys. While I do have local work, about half of my practice spans across the state. I work closely with partners in our Tallahassee, Orlando, Miami, and Tampa offices on a variety of matters. For example, I can be working on a fairly routine, local landlord-tenant dispute and get a call from a partner in Orlando to help with a $250 million dollar bid protest that was just filed against our client. From then on, the majority of my work will be consumed by that bid protest and I can go from working "beach attorney" hours to typical "big-law" hours for the next month or two. Sometimes I will need to travel to our other offices for trials or important hearings, but most often I can work on the case from my own office. My practice allows me to work on big, high-stakes cases in large cities, while still maintaining a (relatively speaking, for our profession) healthy work-life balance.
What are good resources for women attorneys in your area?
We have a monthly women's law luncheon where we discuss our practice, interesting legal stories, etc. This is also a good opportunity to network with women attorneys who work in practice areas other than mine. Our firm has a lot of wonderful, sharp women attorneys who have been great role models and mentors. Also, staying connected with friends from law school and previous jobs, clinics, and clerkships will always prove to be beneficial for networking and job opportunities.
What advice do you have for women attorneys following in your footsteps?
I had never even visited Destin before interviewing and accepting a job here. Initially, I thought it was too small (I planned to live in Miami or New York City) and only agreed to accept a job offer here because I would be working at the same firm with two friends from law school, would get some good hands-on litigation experience, and could live on the Gulf of Mexico. I thought I would move someplace else after a year or so. However, 3 ½ years later, I have changed firms, but still live and practice in Destin. I would encourage young attorneys not to bypass a job offer solely because of location, especially if an exciting or unique opportunity presents itself.
Ms. Corona is an associate at Broad and Cassel and is well-versed in all phases of litigation regarding commercial and partnership disputes, title insurance claims, employment law, construction litigation, and real estate disputes. Ms. Corona earned her law degree from The University of Michigan Law School in 2008. During law school, she was President of the Latino Law Students Association and clerked at the Florida Third District Court of Appeal. Thereafter, she completed a postgraduate Dean’s Fellowship at the Child Advocacy Law Clinic of The University of Michigan Law School. Ms. Corona is a member of the Florida and New York Bar Associations, along with being admitted to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District and Northern District of Florida.
Ms. Corona is experienced in the public bid and proposal sector, handling bid protests and related litigation on major public works projects, including in 2013, two of Florida's largest federal court bid protest law suits involving a $220 million automated people mover system on a multi-billion dollar airport terminal expansion project, and a $70 million design-build, public-private works project which was the lynchpin to a local expressway authority's ten-year capital improvement program (achieving complete victory on both). Ms. Corona also handled a bid protest on behalf of a provider service network bidding on a $1 billion Medicaid contract in Miami-Dade County. The Administrative Law Judge sided with the provider service network, who then eventually settled the dispute with Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration.