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Embracing Identity

Lena Laurenzo’s journey as an LGBTQ attorney.

Lena Laurenzo (Photo courtesy)


OutSmart magazine readers chose Lena Laurenzo, 36, as Best Female Personal Injury Attorney. It is a career she became interested in after experiencing an accident that left her injured, unable to work, and facing an insurance company that was unwilling to pay. Now, Laurenzo is the one getting insurance companies to do right by her clients.

“When I was 21 years old, I was injured after a drunk driver crashed into my car. With neck and back injuries, I couldn’t work my two jobs and I had a lot of medical bills. Even though I was clearly not at fault, the drunk driver’s insurance company didn’t want to pay fair compensation. After hiring a personal injury attorney, I was able to get my life back on track. I had always wanted to help people, but I’d never thought of being a lawyer until that experience put me on the path to law school and ultimately practicing personal injury law,” she says.

Laurenzo, a 2015 graduate of South Texas College of Law, represents people who have been injured or killed through the fault of others. She specializes in catastrophic injury and death cases as the result of chemical plant and refinery explosions, workplace accidents, maritime accidents, defective and dangerous products, car crashes, and more.

She is a native Houstonian with deep roots in the East End. Roots so deep, in fact, that she has family ties to one of the most famous Houstonians of all time—her grandmother “Mama” Ninfa.

“I am very happy to live in the area where my parents were born. It is also the area where my grandmother’s legacy began. My grandma began a tortilla and pizza dough factory on Navigation that ultimately turned into the well-known Ninfa’s restaurants. I love the culture and history of my neighborhood and the Second Ward area,” she says.

Laurenzo just celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary with her wife, Jess Preheim, but they have been together over nine years and are expecting their first child. When not spending time with her family, she is practicing law as an associate attorney at Abraham Watkins, where she is out and proud—a fact she thinks is important.

“In the early days of my career, opposing lawyers would underestimate me because I was young, female, or Latina, let alone because I was a lesbian. I use all facets of my identity as motivation to work that much harder, and that shows in the results I get for my clients. I feel that my LGBTQ clients are extra comfortable having an attorney who can relate to them personally and not worry about being treated differently,” says Laurenzo.

“I believe it is important to be out in the workplace for many reasons. Most of us, especially lawyers, spend a lot of time at work. Work can be stressful enough on its own, and it would only add more stress and anxiety to my life if I had to hide my wife or my identity. Lawyers and LGBTQ individuals are at risk for mental health problems. Being out in the workplace, and working at a law firm that supports me as I am, helps keep my mental health balanced. Also, as an officer of the court, I have taken an oath to be honest and truthful. I choose to be out in the workplace and my career because I cannot  tolerate not doing my best because of constantly hiding my truth,” she says.

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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at
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