By Stephanie Francis Ward
ABA Journal e-Report • Friday, March 3, 2006
Carla Barboza’s Move From Litigation to Mediation Changed her Focus to Softer, More Colorful Styles—Denim, Too!
“I felt such a sense of liberation being freed from clothes I had to wear, to clothes I wanted to wear.”
In the 1990s, you were one of the first female lawyers in Los Angeles to wear pants to federal court. Did you feel like a trailblazer?
I suppose. It took me 10 years before I finally decided that “this is it, I’m going to wear something that fits my personality more, and that includes pants.” I was a bit nervous about it, and I tested the waters to see if I got any sort of reaction from the judges. They didn’t even notice.
Has your look changed since you went from being a plaintiffs employment lawyer to a full-time mediator?
Definitely. I think for a long time, I tried to stay within the confines of what our profession tells us is acceptable. I kind of broke free from that and realized we say a lot about ourselves in how we dress. So I moved toward softer, more colorful, more graceful attire. But I always keep an edge to it.
What prompted the change?
I found myself not wanting to wear what was in my closet because it no longer matched who I was. As I evolved as a person, I outgrew my wardrobe. I felt such a sense of liberation being freed from clothes I had to wear, to clothes I wanted to wear. And beauty has become quite important to me.
How would you describe your look now?
Comfortable and eclectic. People come to my office pretty high-strung, so I try to create a relaxing and inviting environment. I try to get my clothes to also fit that scene so I appear more accessible.
Where do you like to shop?
Fred Segal, Barneys [New York] and some of the smaller boutique-type shops. I have a stylist now and am having great fun with that. Having someone with a fabulous eye helps me come up with things that express who I am and describe what I do.
You’re in a T-shirt. Do you wear those to work often?
I do. I have incorporated denim into my wardrobe too. If you wear really beautiful shoes and nice jewelry, you can wear denim with anything.
Did you learn that from your stylist?
Yes! What I discovered now is that when I buy clothes, I wear them. I don’t have a situation where I buy things and they sit in the closet. Now I have fun getting dressed, and I take time to get dressed. The whole selection process in the morning is really important to me.
© 2006 ABA Journal