Advocating for Others is a Calling for Marci Goldstein Kokalas
While women are increasingly entering the legal world, there remains work to be done to make the profession more diverse and inclusive.
“Compared to some other industries, the legal industry may be a little slower to catch up,” said Marci Goldstein Kokalas, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Global Insurances practice group. “I am often the only woman in the room, still. So, I think it’s something we continue to work on in all aspects.”
Being “the only woman in the room,” is a reality with which female attorneys often contend daily. Marci has never let that reality stop her, and she wants young females in the firm to know it should never stop them, either.
“Don’t focus so much on the fact that you’re a female, or that someone’s a male,” said Marci. “Just speak your mind and try not to worry about any of those traditional gender notions that people say, like ‘if a woman speaks up, she’s pushy.’ Always get your opinion across and say what you have to say.”
That Marci would offer such advice should be no surprise. Whether it’s mentoring young women in the legal profession, representing her clients, or tracing her origin in law back to her work as an assistant district attorney and victim’s advocate in the New York County D.A.’s Office, the one constant in Marci’s career has been advocating for others.
“I really enjoy arguing a position on someone else’s behalf,” she said.
Marci’s interest in law, in fact, started after taking a course while an undergrad at Cornell University that focused on guardianship and the representation of children in court. It ignited in her a passion for advocacy which to this day Marci applies in the representation of her clients.
“I don’t think any of my days are typical, which is part of what I like about my practice. It’s a dynamic practice,” said Marci. “I really do enjoy being challenged daily. I like to think outside the box and come up with new and different ways to service clients and meet their needs.”
After her time in the DA’s office, Marci went to work for a small firm where her work focused primarily on insurance-coverage matters. She was drawn to Goldberg Segalla, she said, by the opportunity to work collaboratively with a broader range of clients and attorneys and by the firm’s national presence, which she said has enabled her to grow her practice and take advantage of the firm’s considerable resources and talent.
“I’m very happy here. It’s a wonderful place to work,” said Marci. “It’s a supportive work environment. A large group of attorneys all working toward a common goal: how to best service our clients. And there are multiple resources across state lines for achieving those goals, and a wonderful support staff that we have here. It’s helped me to learn and grow.”
Helping young female attorneys in the firm learn and grow is also something to which Marci — the mother of two high school-aged daughters — has committed herself.
“It’s a good idea to partner up, or mentor up, with other female attorneys to get the benefit of their experiences,” said Marci. “I had a mentor when I started my career at the District Attorney’s office, and she was a wonderful senior attorney who I think really instilled in me a lot of ways in which I could manage the work-life balance. Now, I have someone I mentor here at Goldberg Segalla.
“It’s important to have someone you can ask questions and get answers, so you don’t have to always figure things out on your own, be it professional questions or personal,” said Marci. “It’s important for women to collaborate with other women. We can learn from one another and learn from each other’s shared experiences.”