Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Carlin Littles

Carlin Littles is an associate in Columbus. Working in the firm’s Corporate Department, she focuses her practice in real estate and banking & finance, concentrating primarily on commercial leasing and real estate-related purchase and sale transactions.

Describe a pivotal moment that influenced your career path.

For me, there was no pivotal moment that led me to become a lawyer, it was just something that I always wanted. When I was little, my favorite game to play was a game that I made up and called “court room.” I would play the judge, my older sister would be the prosecutor, my grandma the defendant, and my grandpa the bailiff. I frequently sent my grandma to “jail” for walking barefoot on cold tile. When I got older, I started paying more attention to how the justice system works and how it doesn’t. I remember my dad, who is a paralegal at the Office of the State Attorney back home in South Florida, telling me about how proud he felt when he helped a young Black woman with a minor shoplifting record from when she was a kid get into nursing school. To my dad, it was just an ordinary day; he was doing his job. To that women, it changed the course of her life. And to me, that was an example of the justice system working. While I cannot reform the justice system, the skills that you develop as a lawyer, and the access that you get to decision-makers, gives you the opportunity to take a minute of your time making someone else’s life better. That is why I became a lawyer.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

Mentorship, both formal and informal, has made a major impact on my professional life. For a while, I struggled with confidence out of fear of appearing too aggressive. Consequently, my demeanor read as too docile. I think this is a problem that a lot of women have, especially women of color, and especially in male-dominated careers such as law. I had a mentor in law school that helped me develop strategies that made me feel more confident speaking up and being assertive. Historically, women have been prevented from being a part of the conversation, so when we are invited, it is a shame when we do not feel comfortable speaking up. The perspective that diverse attorneys can offer is incredibly valuable, and occasionally, we may need to remind ourselves of that fact.

What advice do you wish you could give your younger self, just starting out in the legal field?

Speak up. Speak up. Speak up. Intellectual curiosity is vital in any profession. Ask questions, remain curious, and try to see the big picture in everything that you do. Be vocal, even loud when necessary, and make sure people remember you for the right reasons. 

Name an attorney you admire and tell us why.

Thurgood Marshall. I think that it is incredibly easy to lose sight of where one comes from once they have achieved success. But here is a man who grew up during the Jim Crow era, was denied admission to law school based on the color of his skin, graduated from Howard University School of Law, and then began axing off those laws so people of color could achieve the same success. If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is.

Tell us about your favorite thing to do outside of work.

Right now, my focus is on exploring Columbus and other parts of Ohio. I grew up in South Florida, so having four seasons is foreign to me, and all activities associated with those seasons are also foreign to me. When I’m not at work, I’m finding new trails to run, parks to hike, and restaurants to try out. Whenever I move to a new town, I try to find new hobbies that make the town feel more like home.