Women's Leadership InitiativeQ&A with Kimberly Lopater

Kimberly Lopater is an associate in Porter Wright's Litigation Department in Tampa, Florida. She works with clients on insurance brokerage and insurance intermediary matters. Kim is passionate about providing pro bono services, mentoring prospective and current law students, and serving local legal organizations such as the Hillsborough County Bar Association and Diversity Access Pipeline, Inc.

What are the best ways you have found to continue to hone and build your leadership skills and legal practice?

Mentorship, pro bono service and practicing the pause. Mentors have been extremely instrumental in my professional development since law school because they put things in perspective based on their own experience to affirm or negate concerns and self-doubt, provided honest and unfiltered feedback, and connected me with opportunities and other attorneys to build my network of resources. Pro bono service is another great tool I have used because it enables me to refine my communication skills and engage with my community in a more relaxed setting, which motivates me to become a more eloquent and effective litigator to build trust with the people I serve. Finally, incorporating the “practice the pause” mantra into my daily practice has helped me be a better listener, manage priorities more efficiently and silence the imposter syndrome thoughts.

By what standards do you measure success?

I measure success by a method inspired by something a best friend once said. She asked, “Would 9-year-old Kim be proud of you right now?” I am someone who sets high standards and expectations for herself, and can lose sight of the big picture at times. However, as Brené Brown would say, “the story I’m telling myself” likely is not the reality. Zoom out, identify the end goal and make a plan. Success is subjective and there are often multiple routes to success, so I remind myself to reflect on my actions/decisions honestly and logically to ensure I continue to put my best foot forward in all that I do to make 9-year-old Kim proud.

What is the best advice you’ve received about how to be a successful attorney?

Set boundaries early and stick to them. This applies in your work life and personal life as an attorney because boundaries set the groundwork for finding the ever-elusive “work-life balance.” Boundaries help prevent burn out, and they force you to figure out how to be more efficient and how to assert yourself when needed. In your personal life, boundaries help manage expectations and keep you accountable, which in turn plays a role in your ability to be successful in your professional life.

What is one of your proudest moments, inside or outside your career?

When I found the courage to get tested and treated for ADHD after many years of thinking I was just lazy. My diagnosis was a breakthrough for me because it was proof that the potential I thought I had all along was real, and it gave me the confidence to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney. Through my experience, I learned the value of having an advocate who understands my ADHD, and I have made it my mission to become that advocate for law students and attorneys alike. The stigma around ADHD as something everyone has, or something that is not serious, kept me from seeking the help I needed because I thought my symptoms were normal and I feared criticism for taking medication. When I finally realized I was limiting myself and my ability to have a fulfilling life, I sought help. For that, I am forever proud.