In 2002, Susan Carns Curtiss ’06 served as a juror in an Oklahoma County bad faith insurance trial. She grew fascinated as the trial continued and after met with Judge Nancy Coats, the judge who presided over the case, to learn more about what it takes to become an attorney. Curtiss was intrigued after their meeting and began volunteering around Judge Coats’ office where she gained a broader view of what the practice looks like.
She graduated from OCU School of Law in 2006 and began practicing as an attorney.
“My job responsibilities included vetting cases for possible representation,” says Curtiss. “For the convenience of those I connected with by phone, I developed a habit of ending those conversations with, ‘Here’s my name and my direct line, but also, if you lose this information – just call back, and ask for ‘the girl attorney’.’ I was the only female attorney that worked at that office, so – no matter who answered the phone – the caller would easily find their way back to me.”
As she continued her practice, Curtiss noticed the lack of women in the field.
“While attending a trial lawyers’ conference, I noticed I was one of no more than five women there – out of well over 100 lawyers,” says Curtiss. “What’s more, over the course of that multi-day conference, I was repeatedly mistaken for someone’s spouse. There I was – with my people – but, simply for being female, I was also virtually unrecognizable to them.”
In 2016, Curtiss founded GIRL ATTORNEY®. Her Facebook following grew by the thousands just within a few weeks’ time. She then launched a website, www.girlattorney.com, in 2017. Nationwide, there are approximately twenty active state groups and over 16,000 women connected.
“For me, it means I am in awe of the responsibility I have been given to be a good steward of these networking spaces,” say Curtiss. “It also means for me, that the most important thing I accomplish with my law degree may be the decision to start a Facebook Group for 47 of my attorney girlfriends. A likelihood that makes me laugh… and also makes me proud, and really really not want to mess it up.”
Along with owning a startup, Curtiss started her own law firm, Carns Curtiss Law. After having worked for Farmers Insurance Company and another local firm, she sought more out of her work. Having been fortunate enough to work for such highly-skill and professional people, Curtiss was prepared to become her own boss.
“In all seriousness, it was a role that I had said for years I would never have,” say Curtiss. “It seemed too intimidating, too risky. But one day, more or less, I took the plunge – and have, more or less, absolutely loved having my own firm ever since.”