Hometown: Newport Beach
Family: Parents, John and Mary (longtime Newport Beach residents), and brother and sister bichon frise shelter adoptees
First job: Sales associate at Judy’s/GHq clothing boutiques in South Coast Plaza
Worst job: Each job is important in its own way and helps you grow.
Biggest break: Filing my first brief in the U.S. Supreme Court just shy of my 30th birthday, then helping win the case, which meant putting a judge who had sexually assaulted and raped female court employees and litigants back in jail. The high-profile and emotionally charged case put me on the road to becoming an appellate lawyer.
Secret to your success: Tenacity, a drive for excellence, and creative and cross-disciplinary thinking. The belief that one person can and should make a difference. Plus an incredibly strong and supportive network, namely my parents.
Advice to other women in business: Challenge yourself. Take calculated risks; do not choose the safe route. Support other women in ways that are tangible, direct and impact the bottom line. Find openings to provide other women with opportunities to shine. Refer business to other women in your trusted network.
Favorite legal movie or book of all-time: Movie – “To Kill a Mockingbird”; book/CD – “May It Please the Court” (recordings of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court). I love the law!
A partner with Snell & Wilmer, Sungaila has successfully argued appeals for ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, Honeywell and Medtronic, to Amnesty International and Human Rights USA. Her pro bono work in the areas of human rights includes a win last year in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that’s been described as “one of the most important legal victories for international women’s rights in decades.”
Sungaila was recognized last year as one of the Top 100 Women Litigators in California by the Daily Journal and received the Alpha Phi International Fraternity Alumni award for career achievement.
She’s serving as counsel for companies such as Ford and Allergan, and recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in one of the most closely watched cases this term, the Wal-Mart v. Dukes class-action lawsuit, which alleges that Wal-Mart discriminated against its female employees. As a result, she recently was recognized as Appellate Lawyer of the Week by the National Law Journal.
OC METRO'S 20 WOMEN TO WATCH FOR 2011
Carol A. Taylor | Staci Brillhart | Kay S. Napier | Eve Lowey
Julie Lim | Kate Klimow | Monica Wise | Marcy McKenna
Victoria Wade | India Hynes | Farrah Emami | Lisa Wolter
Mary-Christine “M.C.” Sungaila | Shirley Balarezo
Renee P. McLeod | Laura Khouri | Alyson Noël
Brenda Brkusic | Cathy Thomas | Sue Swenson
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