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Conversations with the Inspiring M. Viviana Oropeza, MBA, Esq.

Today we’d like to introduce you to M. Viviana Oropeza, MBA, Esq.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born here in San Diego to Mexican immigrants in 1984. Throughout my life, I have lived on both sides of the border here in various areas in California and in Teocaltiche, Jalisco, MX, my dad’s hometown, and ultimately mine as well. My dad worked various jobs, as a gardener, a laborer, a mechanic, and a bread maker, among many others to support our family.My mother was a stay at home mom. Throughout my childhood, not much was expected from us as a child of immigrants. Our parents didn’t expect much from us, quite frankly they didn’t comprehend what opportunities were available to us. We were poor and often got those sad or pity looks everywhere we went as a group of 8, my parents and us six children. However, I was a dreamer and a believer since I can remember. I often spent many days up in trees fantasizing about building a spectacular life for myself. I fantasized about ways I could change my life, and with the guidance of good teachers and counselors who didn’t brush me aside, they made me realize it was through education that I would be able to come out on the other side of my situation with something more than just a husband or a teenage pregnancy.

My father had always told me, “you’re not very smart but at least you’re pretty so you’ll find a good husband to take good care of you”. The truth was my father didn’t know much about me at the time, he had six kids to feed, and an alcoholic addiction to keep up so he didn’t really know his children. I left home when I was 16 when we were living in Teocaltiche Jalisco, to run away from the stressful family situation and moved back to the U.S. I moved in with an uncle, got a job working after school and finished high school, got into college, earned my bachelor degree Political Science, the first in my family to earn a college a degree. I eventually went on to earned an MBA in Finance, my Juris Doctorate, and become a licensed lawyer. The path to becoming a lawyer was not easy though, it was almost a decade taking the LSATs (about five times), failing to get into law school, and being determined enough to keep trying and eventually getting an opportunity to prove myself in law school, pass the bar, and become a lawyer.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have been mostly on my own and struggling to get where I am since I was 16. I have often let the doubts of others, and the odds against me fuel my determination and push past what some say is not possible. Becoming a lawyer was one of those odds I had to fight against. The road has not been smooth, especially as a Latina. Only about 2% of the all lawyers are female and latina, even though approximately 18% of the population is Latinx in the U.S.. The odds of becoming an attorney are stacked against us from the beginning . The LSAT has language and other complicated logic games and material I had never been exposed to growing up, so I was rejected from law school several times before getting in.

Also, by the time I had an opportunity to go to law school my father passed away a week before and I had a husband and a four year-old daughter when I started. So grief and the family balancing act played a role from the beginning. Add to it that I became pregnant with my son in my second year of law school and my doctors put me on bed rest, so I had to take medical leave from law school. I was forced to stay in bed for the next eight months so I could have my son through a complicated, high-risk surgery. Once my son was born, I immediately took a couple of online classes, while taking care of my little one at home, and eventually went back to school full time and finished law school in the next year and a half. I then took the bar as soon as I graduated and passed the California Bar on my FIRST try. A big accomplishment if I may say so myself. I was often told that LSAT scores were a big determining factor as to whether a person passed the bar on the first try. I was told my odds were not good for me given the fact that I had struggled with the LSAT.

When I found out I passed the bar on my first try I immediately knew my next step was starting my own law firm, so I did just that. With the assistance of the Access to Law Initiative at California Western School of Law, I launched Oropeza Law, PC, which evolved into “Attorney In Heels”™ my female-centered Business and Estate Planning law firm. These two practice areas were natural for me to enter into right out of law school because I have a business background (my MBA), and having worked as an investment advisor in my prior career I had been exposed to working with business owners, and families helping them set up their wealth planning, business buy-sells, and family estate plans, all I was doing now was working on the legal side instead of the financial side, which I know also gives me more insight when I’m planning for and counseling my clients.

What should we know about Attorney in Heels ? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
As Founder and Managing attorney of Attorney in Heels (TM) my female centered business and estate planning law firm. My practice focuses on helping businesses and families with Business Counsel and Estate Planning. I am not only a legal expert, but also have extensive knowledge in other important areas of business and estate planning, including finance, investments, and insurance, which gives me greater insight into clients’ needs from all angles.

In Business Counsel, I provide legal advice with respect to business startup formation and restructuring; product development and marketing; employment and labor issues; finance; purchasing; manufacturing; distribution and sales; intellectual property and licensing; real estate leasing, purchases, and sales; corporate governance; and risk management.

Further, my Estate Planning practice is aimed at guiding clients through the often-confusing maze of financial and legal decisions to help create estate plans that ensure the well-being of families and create and guide businesses on a path of continued success with concise exit planning.

These are some the the services I provide:

BUSINESS COUNSEL SERVICES
• Business Formations and Restructuring (Corporations, LLC’s, LLP’s and other Partnerships)
• Contract Management, Drafting, Review, and Analysis; related to employment, purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, intellectual property, and licensing.
• Ongoing Business General Counsel Services
• Risk Management Services
• Trademark Counsel, Filing, and Prosecution
• Business Litigation

ESTATE PLANNING SERVICES
• Customized Plans for Families
• Wills, Codicils
• Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
• Advanced Health Care Directives
• Power of Attorneys
• Business Estate Planning (Buy-Sell Agreements)

What sets me apart is my Branding, and my commitment to serving females with concise and quality legal services honed to make women comfortable making important legal decisions for their businesses and their families. I am most proud of the fact that I have stuck to my guns on “Attorney in Heels” (TM) in spite of some push back I have received from the legal community regarding my branding.Attorney in Heels is dear to my heart because my practice is reflective of who I am and who I serve. I serve my clients “in my heels” which means more when you read between the lines. I wrote a blog about this at the following link: https://attorneyinheels.com/attorney-in-heels-1/f/what-is-attorney-in-heels

Although I do have male clients, my ultimate focus is helping female entrepreneurs and their families feel comfortable making important decisions about their family and business future. The traditional law firms are often intimidating and rough around the edges, which often lead women not to inquire, ask questions, or learn more about important legal decisions they need to make to protect their families and businesses. Attorney in Heels aims to make these decisions easier to navigate so that important legal steps don’t go ignored and become too costly to families and businesses.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
My recommendation for young women who are starting to visualize where you want to go and play it in your head over and over and let it fuel you. It’s ok if it takes longer than expected, but just keep going. Also, seek mentorship; especially in law, that could make all the difference. Getting guidance, tips and tricks of the trade can prevent some of the hassles and struggles. Last but not leastignore the nay-sayers, and never give up. I mean never.Even when things seem bleak. If it means that much and you want to put in the work, you’ll get there.

Contact Info:

See my upcoming television segment as a guest speaker for “Dinero y Mucho Mas” airing on Telemundo 20 at 6:30am, Saturday January 11, 2020.  Also on the WealthWave En Espanol YouTube Channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPjCYPZDlmCNxMSevd97mew


Image Credit:

Omar Arroyo, Cesar Villalobos

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