If you think law school was difficult, it has nothing on the circumstances these Super Lawyers overcame. From escaping political unrest in the Philippines to trying to change the views of women in an entire profession, the following stories evidence the varied backgrounds yet similar resolve of Super Lawyers selectees. Read each story and see what’s happening with other Super Lawyers and Rising Stars selectees.
The women in this cover article joined the male-dominated legal profession in the 1970s and started a shift in its demographics. Here are some of the things they heard along the way:
“These women blazed a trail, facing challenges I can’t imagine dealing with,” says Christine Segarra, whose class of 2013 at Tulane Law School was nearly 60 percent women. “They established what is acceptable and what will not be tolerated in this profession. … I’m grateful that they made it possible for me to have a normal work environment.”
José Bautista was born in Makati, Manila, the central business district in the Philippines. It was a comfortable life. Yet he remembers open sewers where trash would be running.
He grew up in the brutal era of Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator who declared martial law and crushed political dissent. Those detained for political reasons might disappear forever.
One day, when Bautista was 8, rumors circulated that people were threatening to kidnap him.
It’s still a mystery to Bautista what it was all about. “I can never get a straight story from my father,” he says. “I’m not sure I want to know. It was very politically charged then, but whether or not that had any link to why we fled, I couldn’t tell you.”
After being told to pack a bag, Bautista and his parents left immediately.
The family arrived with the clothes on their backs and $5,000. Bautista’s father started an office supply company, walking everywhere until he could afford a car. They spoke English in the home, and as the office supply company boomed, the family moved to Palos Verdes, an enclave on the Pacific coast.
After attending Washington University as an undergraduate, and then law school at St. Louis University, it took the help of a former St. Louis law professor to land him in Kansas City via a clerkship with Circuit Court Judge Michael Manners.
He soon landed at Franke Schultz & Mullen, taking on insurance cases, and then moved in 2002 to Davis Bethune & Jones, where he joined a small shop of seven lawyers and began laying the frame for his railroad work.
In 2009, Bautista decided to launch his own firm. At first he and his partners were shoestringing it-MacBooks, iPhones, letterhead and a P.O. box.
Less than a decade later, Bautista is standing at the entrance to Bautista LeRoy’s new digs, a two-story, 15,000-square-foot building in an up-and-coming part of midtown Kansas City. It’s another significant crossroads for a guy who’s no stranger to being the new kid on the block.
Read the entire article to learn about Bautista’s upbringing and how he became one of the top-rated attorneys in the country.
The statistic is noted by nearly every lawyer interviewed here: Women make up 50 percent of law school graduates. But their representation in firm leadership remains unequal. Despite the strides made during the last few decades, challenges remain for women in the legal industry.
In the feature article, we talked about these issues with eight Milwaukee-area women on the front lines-some who blazed trails in the 1970s and others making noise in the early stages of their careers.
Look at the full article to read their stories and see the entire list of Wisconsin selectees.
Also, catch up on all the latest issues of Super Lawyers Magazine in the digital editions.