As Fennemore continues to proudly celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month – featuring some of our female attorneys, along with their insights for future women leaders -- we recently had the pleasure of talking with Kimberly A. Howard Arana, a member of our firm’s Management Committee, and an attorney who has one of the most unique practices at Fennemore. Based in Nogales, AZ, Kim’s practice focuses primarily on agriculture, international, and corporate law.
As 2021 quickly races forward, Kim offers her insights on the current state of our firm and a fascinating life in the law.
Fennemore’s charge is definitely “Start With Why?!” Tell us about your why. Why did you become an attorney – and how does this mindset inform your practice?
It definitely boils down to helping people – as an attorney, I have a skillset that can help people in a unique way. It’s often companies that need help, but it can also be individuals in a crisis situation, dealing with tragedies like the loss of a loved one. People put themselves in my hands. My clients tell me their problems, and I make them my own, taking the weight off of their shoulders.
It’s fun, and exceptionally rewarding, for example effectuating a transaction that was once only a dream for my clients and solving clients’ problems.
Talk about your leadership role here at the firm on our Management Committee. What’s the biggest challenge we’re facing moving forward?
I’m proud to say that even after 135-plus years of serving our clients, as one of the most formidable Mid-Market firms in the country, we’re still all about change and pivoting.
I am fortunate to work with my talented colleagues on the management committee who are able to deal with the challenges of our time. COVID-19 brought immense, unforeseen changes to the legal industry, and now, seemingly overnight, most of our attorneys have become remote working warriors, and courts are moving forward with virtual proceedings. Non-attorney ownership rule changes in the Arizona market mean that law firms such as ours need to be proactive to meet these challenges – and opportunities. Fennemore is forever forward thinking, changing and evolving, and that’s what keeps us strong and vibrant.
You’re at the intersection of some of the most intriguing crossroads of our firm: located in Nogales, AZ; fully bilingual; and a seasoned pro in Agribusiness. How did you create this specialized career in the legal profession?
If you would have asked me that question during my first year in law school, I can safely say that I never imagined this career. I think most people gravitate toward their natural skills – and where they can excel.
I was a Spanish major in college, and enjoyed reading 16th Century Spanish literature and learning about Spanish idioms used in the U.S. Southwest. When I moved to Nogales, AZ, I quickly realized that my Spanish conversational, reading and writing skills were very valuable. Nogales is a major port of entry for produce coming into the U.S. from Mexico. My clients on both sides of the border rely on me because of my English and Spanish skills, and my knowledge as it relates to businesses and law, including Agribusiness and Agriculture law.
It runs both ways – my American and Mexican clients rely on me to act as a conduit between the two cultures and two languages. Again, it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to help people using my bilingual and legal skills.
What advice would you give women in law school now, contemplating careers in the legal profession?
It’s a fascinating career opportunity, full of rigorous, intellectual challenges. There are a record number of women attorneys in the United States.
Some women attorneys also choose to have children and question whether they can still have a demanding career, and raise children.
The key is to work with people who offer flexibility. As a mother of five children, I know women attorneys can do both and in doing so, serve as a role model to their children.
Who’s your hero?
My dad. He came from humble beginnings, but through hard work, dedication – and with the gift of intelligence – became a doctor, and thus a healer.
What failure in your life do you now cherish the most?
That “B” I received in Biology in college. I too had dreamed of being a doctor, but the “B” made me reevaluate my career goals. Ultimately, that failure led me to majoring in Spanish, followed by law school.
What are you most curious about in your life?
I still enjoy learning about things that I don’t know much about in order to obtain a better understanding about life. At present, that’s sociology, psychology and astronomy.
I’ve also always been curious about what my kids and grandkids are doing, and knowing how they think. Our children teach us as much – or more – than we teach them.
During International Women’s Month, and always, we salute Kim Arana for her bold leadership and vision and creating a vibrant career in the legal profession by utilizing her best talents. This purpose, along with joy, creates true meaning in our careers and lives.
Are you and your company interested in learning more about cross-border business transactions and dealing in the U.S. and Mexico? Click here to be connected with our Agribusiness team.