Erin Gomez didn’t know any lawyers when she decided to become one herself. She didn’t even think about becoming an attorney until after she’d graduated from college.
Gomez, 31, followed that path after becoming interested in immigration law. It was a short walk, though.
As an attorney in Baker Donelson’s Chattanooga office, Gomez represents telecommunications, utility and railroad entities in litigation, tax and regulatory matters across the U.S. She also litigates cases involving malpractice, professional liability, intellectual property and contract disputes.
“I totally sold out,” she laughs.
Gomez grew up wanting to work for a nonprofit. Her ambition led her to work for Catholic Charities of East Tennessee’s Office of Immigrant Services in Knoxville while studying Spanish at Maryville College.
The experience sparked an interest in the law in Gomez and led her to Emory University, where she was a student member of the Emory International Humanitarian Law Clinic and served as president of the Emory Immigration Law Practice Society.
A constant struggle for resources and support while working for Catholic Charities in Knoxville had soured Gomez on nonprofit work, so she took a job with the Atlanta Immigration Court while in law school.
This, in turn, soured her on immigration law.
“I wound up facilitating the deportation of a lot of people,” she says. “So much for my bleeding heart.”
Gomez switched to working in private immigration but says she felt like she was overcharging a vulnerable population she simply wanted to help.
A move with her husband to Chattanooga in 2016 opened the door to practicing in other areas of the law, initially with Carr Allison and then with Copeland, Stair, Valz & Lovell.
Lured by the promise of working with a large firm, Gomez joined Baker Donelson in February of this year.
“I couldn’t say no,” she smiles. “We have people all over the country practicing in areas of the law I never knew existed, which is amazing. Having access to that many resources has been great. I can reach out to people in Nashville or Knoxville and get what I need.”
In her role as a defense attorney, Gomez has served as second-chair in a five-day construction arbitration, obtained summary judgment in a multimillion-dollar malpractice case and secured grants on motions for summary judgment, motions to dismiss and motions to compel in various Tennessee cases.
This and other work allows her to continue to help people, even though she’s far removed from the nonprofit world, she says.
“I love working with clients and holding their hands through the process no matter what their situation is,” she notes. “Litigation is scary and I like being the person who will listen to them and represent them to the court and safeguard their business and their reputation.”
Although Gomez jokes about the loss of her bleeding heart, she continues to serve the legal profession and her local community through volunteer work. In addition to sitting on the board of the Southeast Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women, she’s a member of the fundraising committee of Bridge Refugees Services, an East Tennessee nonprofit.
Gomez also makes time for her family, which includes her husband, Daniel, and their 2-year-old son, Oscar.
“He takes up most of my free time, which I’m happy to give him,” Gomez says of the latter. “We live on the Riverwalk and are always biking or going to the park. We also spend a lot of time playing sports. Oscar is into anything that involves a ball.”
Gomez and her family also travel to Mexico a couple of times a year. As much as she enjoys revisiting her husband’s roots, she says she’s always happy to return to Chattanooga and the practice of law.
“This has been a great move,” she says. “Chattanooga is a fun and exciting place to live and work.”