Attorney Spotlight: Partner Christina M. Lincoln
By Lauren Birkenstock
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) “is not just feel-good, it is a necessity.” Christina Lincoln became a partner at Robins Kaplan LLP in January 2022. Her focus, sense of purpose, and going above-and-beyond for clients is a large part of why she enjoys tremendous success in her career.
Christina remembers joining the firm in June 2016, where, from the start, she hit the ground running. Her first day at the firm literally involved getting on a flight to Minneapolis to meet not only the attorneys at the Los Angeles office, where she is based, but also attorneys from the six other offices across the U.S. as part of the firm’s annual “All Attorney” event. Christina started her legal practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Los Angeles, where she split her practice between white collar and complex commercial litigation matters. Since joining Robins Kaplan almost seven years ago, Christina has specialized her practice and became a partner within the firm’s Catastrophic Loss Insurance practice group. Alongside this, Christina also has continued to pursue her passion for building and supporting DEI efforts within the firm and in the local legal community.
One of Christina’s strengths is her focus and discipline, which she utilizes in complex insurance cases to handle a wide range of pre-litigation and litigation issues. She regularly leads or co-leads multi-million-dollar coverage matters and/or bad faith litigations, ranging from rainstorm damage in Southern California, to fire damage at a data center in Oregon, to shutdown losses at coal mines in Illinois, among many others. For instance, she recently argued and won a difficult motion in a U.S. District Court in Missouri involving a $200+ million coverage dispute involving international arbitration agreements in insurance policies where express state law in Missouri voided such agreements. In addition to agreeing with the Insurers that the international arbitration agreements were binding, Christina presented separate oral argument that convinced the Court to retain jurisdiction over the remaining Insurers (i.e., those without an arbitration agreement) despite the lack of federal diversity. The Court further entered an order staying the case pending the conclusion of the international arbitrations. This was a groundbreaking success for Robins Kaplan and its clients, given the insured’s clear efforts to remand the lawsuit against all Insurers back to Missouri state court. This is but one example of how Christina likes to sink her teeth into challenging opportunities, with what she calls “opportunities that give butterflies in the stomach.”
Focusing on both the day-to-day details, as well as the end goal, is how Christina operates. She remembers as a young child, her father telling her, “You need to learn to crawl before you can walk, learn to walk before you can run, and learn to run before you can jump.” Making incremental, positive progress each day is how she views her efforts at work and in DEI.
Indeed, DEI remains a personal matter for Christina, as she is a woman of Hispanic heritage and the first one in her immediate family to go to college. To that end, Christina is a Member of the firm’s DEI Committee, Co-Chair of the Women of Robins Kaplan (WoRK) Resource Group, and (previously) the firm’s 2022 Fellow for the Legal Counsel Legal Diversity (LCLD). The LCLD Fellows Program is designed for diverse, high-potential, mid-career attorneys, with a focus on leadership training, and profession and personal development. Christina also is presenting at the June 2023 conference for the Loss Executives Association (LEA) in their first diversity program, titled “Fostering and Empowering the Insurance Industry to Attract & Retain New and Diverse Talent.” Christina views DEI efforts as a necessity and a responsibility, especially when you’re in a position to effect change.
As a mother of two young children, Christina also believes work-life balance is not only important, but also dependent on how each individual defines it. This could mean focusing on mental health, negotiating a more flexible work schedule, and having dialogues directed at highlighting and communicating the need for work-life balance. While some days are challenging and exhausting, more so now as a partner, Christina says, “It is completely worth it to make the decisions for my own files and take ownership over my client relationships.”
Christina’s advice to women and diverse attorneys and members of the insurance industry is to ultimately stick with it and focus on one step at the time. Imposter syndrome is real; Christina finds she still experiences it at times, despite being an attorney for 13 years. It does tend to get easier as time passes and when you find the right people who support your goals. As to DEI, Christina is hopeful and encouraging that we should all keep moving the pendulum forward-pushing to educate and manage unconscious bias in the industry, supporting further education and awareness, and (importantly) encouraging allyship. Christina’s passion and drive to succeed both in her practice and in DEI is a testament to who she is, namely, an advocate and counselor for her clients, and a woman of color and mentor for young, diverse attorneys and others in the insurance industry.
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