Having spent her legal career in small firms, attorney Leynee A. Cruz was initially apprehensive to join a midsized firm like Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. She feared the larger size would limit her interaction among colleagues and clients, but that fear completely dissolved the day she began working at the firm.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the instant warmth and friendliness,” Leynee said. “Everyone stopped by my office to introduce themselves, provide support and make sure I felt welcomed. I was embraced by the Chuhak & Tecson family on my first day.”
The firm’s inclusive culture was an environment familiar to Leynee, especially having grown up in a blended family.
“I emphasized the importance, among my siblings, of learning and understanding where we came from. I made sure we had an environment where we embraced each other and felt supported and listened to,” she said.
Prior to joining Chuhak & Tecson, Leynee practiced in South Florida where she had the opportunity to work alongside attorneys in her family’s native land, Cuba. While representing Cuban National beneficiaries, Leynee faced cultural and stark political differences.
“I found myself in situations I never imagined I would be in,” she said. “I didn’t have access to the internet or even a fax machine, having to send telegrams to communicate with my clients. Most of the families I worked with had no concept of private banks or commercial markets. I adapted to each situation, discerning differences and letting go of any biases that could possibly hinder our communication so I could assist those in great need.”
Working in Cuba helped Leynee further appreciate the sacrifices her family made coming to the United States.
“My paternal grandfather, a political prisoner, fled Cuba during a time when political and economic tension was high,” she said. “My maternal grandmother also fled Cuba with my mother who was two years old at the time. Both left their entire families behind, coming to the United States to pursue a better life for themselves and their children.”
The stories her grandparents shared with her encouraged Leynee to continuously work hard and obtain an education. In fact, it was her grandfather who played a special role in her decision to go to law school.
“My grandfather’s determination and eagerness to learn helped him quickly establish himself in the U.S.,” said Leynee. “He routinely emphasized the importance of obtaining an education, reminding me that education was the one thing no one could take away from me. He instilled the drive in me to push myself, to always strive for more, which, ultimately, led me to obtain a law degree.”
This drive has impelled Leynee to seek new challenges, while simultaneously teaching her not to give up—even in times of adversity.
As president-elect of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, she is working to shape her role in the organization, which promotes the common business interests, professional development and general welfare of Hispanic attorneys. She also works as a trustee for the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund of Illinois and is an active member of the Center for Disability & Elder Law’s Young Professionals Board, Chicago Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association.
Leynee’s commitment and passion for the legal industry has not gone unrecognized—recently being selected a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine and named to the Latinos 40 Under 40 list, a highly selective honor given by Negocios Now.
Despite her busy schedule, Leynee always finds time for her other passion in life, traveling.
“Traveling is a learning experience,” said Leynee. “It allows me to see how people in other parts of the world live, while absorbing their culture and traditions.”