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Sept. 15, 2023

Hispanic Heritage Month Rising Stars: Katherine Pennetti

Dallas partner Katherine Pennetti is the first lawyer in her family, and this is something that she says she’ll never take for granted. Named by Latino Leaders Magazine as one of the top 50 Latino lawyers in the country, Katherine regularly represents clients against product liability claims, with particular focus on automotive, consumer, and medical device products. She has served as lead and second-chair trial counsel in justice courts, state court, and federal court.

Read Katherine’s feature to learn about her background, her advice for other young attorneys, the legal profession’s role in diversity and inclusion, and her hopes for her career!

Can you tell us a bit about your family's background and your connection to your heritage? How has it influenced your journey as an attorney?

My maternal family is from Mexico. My grandfather received a ninth-grade education, and my grandmother received a fourth-grade education. My grandmother, who struggled to read and write, and signed her name with an “X” until the day she died, was one of the biggest supporters of my mom’s education. She constantly impressed upon my mom the importance of working hard in school and becoming independent. This sentiment was then passed down from my mom to me. I am now the first lawyer in my family, which is something I’ll never take for granted. I feel very fortunate to be where I am today and know that it came with a lot of sacrifice. 

What advice would you give to other young attorneys looking to excel in their careers while staying true to their cultural identity?

Never sacrifice who you are for who you think you need to become. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you for the unique and wonderful person that you are.

What do you think is the legal profession's role in promoting diversity and inclusion within communities?

Our profession should be the gold standard for diversity and inclusivity. The advocates we see in the courtroom should reflect the people we see in our community. Similarly, clients are best served when they are afforded case teams with individuals who do not all share the same cookie cutter experiences and backgrounds.

What are your aspirations for the future, whether in your legal career or in terms of contributing to your community?

I had a great mentor once tell me: “Leave this profession a little better than you found it.” In addition to serving my clients to the best of my ability, I want to be able to look back in 30 years and know that I helped to make this profession kinder and more accepting for the next person.