“I definitely knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was very young,” Lina Martinez says. “I didn’t know the different areas of the law, and I didn’t know anyone who was a corporate lawyer, but I knew.”
That vision led her to where she is today: corporate counsel for Atlas Copco, a global company headquartered in Sweden that manufactures industrial equipment. It’s a good fit for Martinez, who wanted to be an in-house lawyer even before she knew such a thing existed: when the young Cuban-American thought of being a lawyer, she always imagined herself working inside of a company.
Despite feeling like she knew exactly where she belonged, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Martinez. After graduating law school at the height of the Great Recession, she was offered deferred employment at a large New York law firm until they had more work coming in. “They would hold my position, pay me a stipend, and I could either do pro-bono work or travel,” Martinez explains.
She went to work for the nonprofit Kids in Need of Defense as an advocate for unaccompanied minors who had crossed the border into the US and needed representation in the New York immigration court system. “I was shown how the job worked, told to watch and learn, and given my first client,” Martinez remembers. It was a difficult and often heartbreaking job, but the lawyer says she’s grateful for the important work she was able to do and the intense on-the-job training it provided.
Martinez would eventually go back to the firm, accruing international and transactional experience before taking an in-house position with Suburban Propane. It was her first in-house role, and she says she was lucky to get it. “I had only been out of law school for a few years, and I think my general counsel really took a chance in hiring me,” Martinez says. Fortunately, it worked out, and she spent nearly four years with the company.
“I definitely knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was very young. I didn’t know the different areas of the law and I didn’t know anyone who was a corporate lawyer, but I knew.”
While that first in-house role gave Martinez the chance to prove her ability to focus on a single client, she missed working with international clients. “I really wanted to go back into international work because it was something I had developed a passion for,” she says. “Atlas Copco is a multinational company with thousands of employees all over the world, and they seemed to always be looking for better ways to operate, especially environmentally, which is pretty extraordinary for an organization this size.”
Prior to being hired at Atlas Copco, Martinez had built a reputation as a strong transactional attorney with extensive international experience, particularly in South America. But since joining the company in 2016, she’s widened her scope considerably, adding employment law; safety, health, and environmental matters; and third-party bankruptcy matters to the list of areas where she has experience.
“Literally every single day is something different,” Martinez says. “That includes my Latin American responsibilities along with cross-border work, and a whole host of other responsibilities.”
For Martinez’s partners, they get to see her adapt day in and day out at Atlas as she’s always ready to take on new challenges. “We are lucky to have had an opportunity to support Lina on her transactions,” says Lee Albanese, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “She is a brilliant attorney and a joy to work for. However, what is most impressive to me about Lina is her uniquely broad perspective of the purpose of the deal and the people involved.”
One of the best parts of the job, Martinez says, is Atlas Copco’s “take charge of your career” mentality, which encourages its employees to seek opportunities that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions. “Even if it’s not a typical growth opportunity, the company is very supportive if you think it will help you develop,” she says. “This has really allowed me to build out my Latin American work because I’m fluent [in the language], I understand the culture, and I think my clients really understand me.”
“You have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and give sound advice and counsel, learning all that you can along the way.”
The company’s focus on professional development, combined with an adaptability that Martinez says is her professional strong suit, have helped the lawyer to take on any challenge thrown at her. “I have no scientific or technical background, but sometimes IP issues hit my desk,” Martinez says. “You have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and give sound advice and counsel, learning all that you can along the way.”
That adaptability also came in handy last year, a time of heavy acquisitions for Atlas Copco. Martinez got to do a deep dive in her area of expertise while still learning on the job. “I love being part of a deal team because we take the time to really learn about the target and their business,” Martinez says. “It was a very busy year and it was exciting to deal in an area where I feel I’m especially strong.”
Martinez says she’s continuing to find ways to build out her capabilities and client support in South America and hopes to make an even bigger impact in the area. At least that’s the plan—and if there’s one thing the lawyer has proven since childhood, it’s that she knows how to follow through on the plans she makes.
Miles & Stockbridge: “Lina Martinez is an able and accomplished attorney who achieves her client’s objectives with tact, energy, foresight and skill. She is a pleasure to work with as a colleague, and consistently demonstrates excellent judgment in managing multiple matters economically, effectively and prudently.”
—Russell V. Randle, Principal