Hilda Galvan is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and Partner-in-Charge of the Dallas office at Jones Day, a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers across five continents. She has represented technology companies in intellectual property litigation across the country for more than 25 years.
Galvan, who also serves on the DRC Board of Directors and was the 2017 Board Chair, talks career and the biggest challenges facing women in the DRC’s on-going Q&A series for Women’s History Month.
What female figures have had the biggest influence on your life?
My mom had the courage to not only move to the U.S. from Mexico with no more than a sixth-grade education, but also stayed here when it meant putting aside her own dreams. She did this so her children could pursue their dreams. The courage, grit, and unwavering commitment she demonstrated throughout her lifetime were valuable lessons that I carry with me and hope to emulate in my life.
What are the biggest challenges facing women today, and what can employers do to help their female leaders excel professionally?
The biggest challenge facing women continues to be the different standard by which they are judged. This is a challenge faced by women at all stages of their career. I have seen a young female lawyer negatively judged for lacking a specific skillset, while her male counterpart is given the opportunity to develop those skills, so he can be fairly evaluated. I have also seen a senior female partner criticized for not having a long list of clients, while her male counterpart was handed clients, so he could demonstrate his potential. Employers need to be intentional in giving opportunities to their female leaders and judging performance using the same criteria, regardless of gender.
What is the one piece of advice you wish you received before you started your career?
Professional relationships are important and should be nurtured. As a young lawyer, I was so focused on developing my skillset, accepting as many opportunities as possible, and raising my family. I did not take the time to develop and nurture professional relationships. Those relationships are not only helpful to your career but also to your sanity. Plus, the relationships can be rewarding and make life more interesting and fun.
If you could write your autobiography, what would its title be, and why?
The title of my autobiography would be “Defined by Me!” The best advice I have ever received came from my dad: “Don’t let others define you.” Throughout my life, there have been people who believed I was aiming for goals I would not be able to accomplish. If I had let people define me, I would not have been an engineer, a lawyer, and managing partner at Jones Day in Dallas. I would also not have had such amazing experiences or met so many interesting people.