Even as a young child, at age 5 or 6, “I wouldn’t let up” during the exchange, Collins said.
Her grandfather, watching the scene, made a remark that stuck with her.
“He said, ‘That girl would be a good lawyer,’” she said.
At the time, she didn’t know exactly what a lawyer did. Still, she thought to herself at the time that, yes, she did want to be a lawyer, and that led her to the University of Missouri School of Law.
While there, she tried out different areas of law, and she plugged into the school’s criminal prosecution clinic. She said she always encourages law students to obtain experience in as many different areas as possible while still in school.
“That helps you determine what you want to do, [and] what you don’t want to do,” she said. “I found things I didn’t like, and I did the criminal prosecution clinic at the university and it was like, ‘Ok, I like this. I see myself doing this.’”
Collins graduated from law school in 2013. Through networking, she landed her first law job at the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, prosecuting criminal cases.
Two years later, she transitioned to private practice and joined HeplerBroom. There, her practice is focused on complex litigation matters, including toxic tort litigation.
In her time at HeplerBroom, Collins has promoted diversity and inclusion efforts at the firm as its co-director of diversity.
“The firm saw there was a need for diversity within our organization,” she said. “I was kind of asked to spearhead that and sit on the committee, and I was able to help them select some other members for the committee.”
The firm’s committee is new — it’s been in place for less than a year — but its members have set their sights on helping to recruit diverse candidates. The firm also has taken part in a diversity job fair for the first time.
“We want to have a selection of candidates, as opposed to coming from one school or one type,” she said.
In her role with the committee, Collins said, she helps to coordinate events and acts as a liaison for the firm with outside groups and bar associations. She’s also working to bring speakers to the firm to talk about diversity issues.
She said the firm’s clients are very interested in the firm’s diversity practices and having diverse lawyers on their cases.
“I was at an event and ran into a general counsel for one of our clients, and I had recently started working on that client’s cases,” she said.
Collins said she introduced herself, and immediately the other attorney asked if Collins worked on any of the client’s cases.
“I said yes, and she said, ‘Good, that’s what I like to hear. That’s what I like to see,’” she said. “I think it’s important for firms to recognize that you have to get ahead of things like that.”