Immediately Sfter Law School, Christina Spent Her First Two Years in Practice Defending Insurance Companies & Their Insured Members From a Variety of Civil Liability Actions. A Special Conversation With Attorney, Christina Cress
Prior to returning to private practice, Christina served as a Staff Attorney at the North Carolina Utilities Commission, where she spent the majority of her time advising the Commission regarding electric and water utility matters, as well as the implementation of regulatory structures to govern new State energy programs created by House Bill 589 (S.L. 2017-192), entitled “Competitive Energy Solutions for NC.”
Before joining Commission staff, Christina served as in-house counsel to the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service and, for a time, as its Interim Executive Director. While at the Board, Christina prosecuted alleged violations of the laws and rules enforced by the Board, advised the Board on various regulatory compliance matters, and served as the Board’s Ethics Liaison, Rulemaking Coordinator, Records Custodian, and Legislative Liaison.
Immediately after law school, Christina spent her first two years in practice defending insurance companies and their insured members from a variety of civil liability actions. During this time, Christina single-chaired a three-day jury trial in Wake County Superior Court, seven District Court bench trials, and litigated numerous cases from the pleadings phase through adjudication or settlement.
Originally from small town Florida, Christina fell in love with North Carolina when she moved in 2010 to attend law school in Chapel Hill. Save from traveling, she hasn’t left the state since. Out of the office, Christina usually is immersed in reading for her book club or playing with her rescue dogs, George, and Kramer.
Q: When did you know you would pursue a career as an Attorney?
CC: I represented myself in a mini-trial in traffic court at age 16, and not only did I enjoy it, but the judge ruled in my favor.
Q: Can you share with our audience, the types of law you specialize in?
CC: I focus my practice on energy and utilities work. I plan to sit for the NC State Bar’s Utilities Specialization exam this fall.
Q: What types of cases do you handle?
CC: Regulatory and litigation matters involving energy and utilities disputes.
Q: What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case?
CC: In the words of Muhammad Ali, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
Q: If we interviewed all your past clients … what is “one” common word that comes up when they describe working with your law firm?
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to pursue a career as an Attorney?
CC: Find women mentors who are at various stages in their legal careers.
Q: What are the best practices you have employed to build a successful career?
CC: I’ve prioritized responsiveness and a focus on client service from day one of my practice. Now that I’m a mid-career lawyer, I can say with confidence that this approach has served me well.
Q: What's your advice for women in male-dominated fields?
CC: Surround yourself with women (and men) who support, promote, and give credit to women.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
CC: I single-chaired a multi-day jury trial a year out of law school, and the verdict was favorable to my client.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
CC: Lawyers are a dime a dozen. There’s always going to be another lawyer out there willing and able to be responsive to the client’s needs. If that means taking client calls after 5:30 p.m., then that’s what I’ll be doing. I never forget that I am replaceable; I stay hungry and humble.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
CC: The microaggressions are constant, even from presumably well-intentioned male colleagues. I had one male colleague publicly disagree with my assessment that the Energy Bar is “relatively male-dominated.” His reason? That there are two (2) women who practice energy/utilities law at his law firm. One really simple, easy thing men can do is listen to women and not dismiss, discount, or discredit women’s perspectives and lived experiences.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
CC: I’m still working on this one but if I ever figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Nine Things About Attorney Christina Cress
1. What's your favorite family tradition?
Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents hide a pickle ornament in our family Christmas tree and my brother, and I have a competition to see who finds it first. Winner gets $100!
2. Among your friends, what are you best known for?
Being the one who works all the time.
3. What’s your favorite international food?
Chicken tikka masala
4. What’s your favorite app on your phone?
Twitter (y’all can follow me @cress_cd)
5. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done?
Traveled to Cartagena, Colombia alone
6. If you unexpectedly won $10,000, what would you spend it on?
7. Tell me about the best vacation you’ve ever taken.
South Africa, hands down.
8. What’s your big passion?
9. Have you ever met anyone famous? Who?
I once met Tiger Woods and Courteney Cox on the same day and at the same place (THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass).