Kyra Flores began her legal career as a young litigator in Cook County, Illinois, home to the state’s largest judicial circuit and one of the largest unified court systems in the world. She frequented courtrooms filled with experienced attorneys, conducted difficult depositions, and had to learn to keep up with the fast pace of firm life on the fly.
Today, Flores is director of legal at ZS, a global management consulting and technology firm based in Evanston, Illinois. She says that challenging chapter of her career journey made it possible. That’s because early on, she learned how to walk into a room with confidence even when she felt the opposite.
“When you are a young, female, Latina attorney, it is challenging in different ways,” she says. “Sometimes I felt how people were looking at me, and I felt what their preconceived notions were about me. But early on, you learn to put that aside, to step up to the plate, and to just do it.
“That helped me a lot when I worked in-house because quite often, I’m in rooms with very creative, intelligent, and talented people who are expecting their counsel to rise to the same level,” she continues. “They expect you to give them the advice they need quickly and succinctly, so you have to be able to get these people who are experts in their field to trust you, and you have to be a business partner to them.”
Young Latino lawyers digesting her words might be asking themselves how Flores managed to do it. The answer isn’t easy or straightforward. It takes a bit of “faking it until you make it” and a lot of believing in yourself.
“We have to believe that we have the right to be in these rooms, even if we don’t come from a certain background or if our résumé doesn’t check all the boxes,” she says. “It’s easy to believe you’re not the right person for a job, but all your experiences help you bring a different perspective or a different strength that others might not have.”
It took Flores time to learn that lesson, but it ultimately drove her to move in-house after a five-year stint as a litigator. When one of her friends got a job at ZS, she encouraged Flores to apply for another opening. The problem was it called for someone with experience she didn’t have. “At first, [I said], ‘I don’t know, I don’t have transaction experience,’ but she kept encouraging me and I just gave it a try and got the job,” she says.
Flores came to the company in 2014 as legal counsel focusing on corporate matters, a role that was relatively new and gave her a chance to make it her own. She went on to serve as senior legal counsel before becoming director of legal in 2022. So far, she’s helped support the company’s increasing M&A efforts while expanding her legal knowledge on a wide range on subjects. She also helps develop the attorneys on her team by encouraging them to take on opportunities or projects that might seem “too big or beyond their experience level.”
“We’re a collaborative team, so I tell them that we’ll figure it out together,” she says. “I try to focus on listening to their concerns, their problems, bring in my perspective while remembering how I felt when I was five years out of law school and still figuring things out.”
There’s a running joke in Flores’ family about how young she was when she knew she wanted to be an attorney. She was in grade school, inspired by her dad, who was a private practice lawyer for decades and got a wide variety of legal experiences under his belt. In fact, her father was the first Hispanic judge in Wisconsin, drafted legislation governing migrant works’ rights in the state, and served as chairman of the Public Service Commission.
Recently, she’s been reflecting on how fortunate she was to have a role model like him after learning that only 5 percent of attorneys in the US are Latino and only 2 percent are Latina—even though Hispanics make up 18.5 percent of the country’s population.
“For me, it was never a question of if it was possible how it might be for those who don’t have that kind of influence growing up,” she says.
That ties into advice she has for Hispanic attorneys who want to help push young lawyers toward their dreams.
“For attorneys already practicing or who are already here in the field, it is important for us to be visible,” Flores says. “I grew up with a role model, so I didn’t question the possibility, but I know a lot of young people don’t see that every day. That’s why we need to be present for them.
“Representation matters,” she continues. “Attorneys shape policy in this country and are in board rooms advising executives and in prosecutors’ offices. Those of us already here need to make sure we’re setting the example and helping those coming up behind us.”
WSC Legal brings local knowledge and expertise to corporations and investors worldwide, offering the highest professional standards in service of practical and integrated problem-solving. Attorneys licensed in Argentina, France, Spain, and the US work together seamlessly to provide the right advice in challenging legal environments. We are international in our diversity, multicultural worldview, and sophistication. Like Kyra Flores and her team at ZS Associates, WSC Legal is committed to the extra effort that transforms good work into excellence and to investing in the careers of those who form part of our organization.