In celebration of Women’s History Month, First-Party Insurance litigation expert Rene Sigman shared insights on her journey as a woman in law and the women who have inspired her. Sigman’s mother and grandmother, strong and accomplished in their ways, are her biggest inspirations. She shared how her passion for debate and advocacy for those who have been wronged led her to pursue law. One of the moments she is most proud of in her career is obtaining a verdict for an elderly couple who were denied payment on their roof by their carrier for Hurricane Ike damage while she was nine months pregnant. She also reminds aspiring women in law that they can succeed in their professional and personal lives with proper time management and priorities.
What woman in your life inspires you (inside or outside the practice of law)?
My mom and grandmother. My mom came here in 1972 from Iran and became a US citizen. She didn’t speak English. But, she learned quickly and eventually owned her salon with another lady from Vietnam. They were business partners for 45 years. She raised my sister and me as a single mom when my parents divorced when I was five years old, and she is one of the most passionate people I know regarding her family and business. She is strong-minded and a hard worker. She still cuts her hair to this day. She provided for us just like a two parent family would have and didn’t feel any different than our friends. She is amazing.
My grandmother died at 99.5 years of age. She was an avid reader, had a doctorate in education, was a school counselor, and was a huge proponent of women’s college studies. She supported working mothers and lower-income women attending school to get an education. She was smart, evolved with the times, progressive, and soft-spoken. She is dearly missed. She was also one of the strongest women I have ever known. Both are different ways of strength but both are very impactful on my life.
What interested you in your field of law?
When I joined Debate in the 7th grade, I was a natural at arguing and loved LD Debate and Extemp Speaking. I loved to compete in Debate, and it evolved into wanting to be an advocate for people who have been hurt or wronged.
What moment in your career are you most proud of?
I am proud of obtaining a verdict for an elderly couple who were denied payment on their roof by their carrier for Hurricane Ike damage. I was nine months pregnant and had my daughter four days after the closing arguments and verdict. I was also one of the youngest lawyers and women to be appointed as Plaintiff Liaison at 31 years of age for Hurricane Ike litigation in Harris County and some surrounding counties for Hurricane Ike litigation.
Additionally, I was elected to be the lead attorney to depose the wind expert in Galveston on the Ike consolidation of Texas Windstorm Insurance Association cases for the Plaintiff side, which was an 18-hour, two-day depo that occurred at the san Luis Hotel, which helped facilitate an excellent settlement for those insureds who had TWIA for Ike damages to their Bolivar Peninsula homes.
What advice would you give to aspiring women in law?
Don’t quit. No matter what you are faced with in and outside of the law. Work/Life balance is hard, and we lose a lot of excellent women in the law due to the inability to have work and life balance with kids. We must do better and understand women’s challenges with being a professional in their fields and a mom at home.
I find that women attorneys who are mothers make excellent employees and workers. They can multitask, manage, and see straight to the issues to problem solve. We need to encourage more women to stay in the legal field and welcome some who have left back to the legal field. They shouldn’t have to pick one over the other. They should be able to have both a work and family life balance and be successful at both. However, it takes an understanding of time management and priorities to be able to do both and a law firm that understands and appreciates women as assets within their firm.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Your legacy is the lives you touch.”