by Mitch Garrett
DAYL is much better because it has Jessica A. Riley. Jessica is a staunch advocate of mentorship for women and young lawyers, whether in DAYL or outside of it. In DAYL, Jessica has been instrumental in leading STEER, a hybrid mentorship program focused on cultivating relationships and providing substantive and practical legal advice to newly licensed Texas attorneys, by keeping her attention keenly focused on the needs of its mentees. Outside of DAYL, Jessica finds meaningful ways to give back through pro bono work and other legal organizations.
Jessica joined DAYL as a mentee in the Women’s Mentoring Circles program between DAYL and the Dallas Women Lawyers Association. Jessica was also member of the 2019 DAYL Leadership Class, is a Life Fellow of the DAYL Foundation, and currently is a member of the Judiciary and Bolton Ball committees. In 2020, Jessica became a Co-chair of the STEER Committee because she saw the importance for every member of DAYL to connect with and be mentored by more seasoned attorneys. This year, Jessica has taken on leading STEER out of the pandemic by modifying its structure to meet the needs of mentees. Applying the critical self-evaluation skill learned in previous mentorship experiences, Jessica realized that current mentees need a mix of in-person and Zoom meetings, a goal-oriented curriculum wherein the mentees select the key topics of focus, and recognition for those who successfully complete the program.
Outside of DAYL, Jessica is a member of the Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Women Lawyers Association, Attorneys Serving the Community, and is an associate of the Higginbotham Inn of Court. She loves the opportunity her associateship in the Inn has given her to be mentored by and collaborate with other attorneys and judges in the greater Dallas legal community. Jessica also finds time to give back through pro bono work, including through the ABA Free Legal Answers program where she lessens the fear of the legal process by providing anonymous legal advice to simple civil law questions.
Jessica graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with degrees in Corporate Communications & Public Affairs and Sociology. It was through her public relations work in college that she decided to go to law school. While working at the American Heart Association translating medical research findings into consumer-friendly articles and tweets, Jessica learned that everything she wrote had to be run through the legal filter. Jessica thought she could have more of an impact by being that legal filter herself. During law school at SMU, Jessica discovered her passion for the financial industry because of its effect on every person’s everyday life. She double downed on her interest and the interplay between financial markets and the rule of law by working for Lee Financial, a local wealth management company, and by externing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
After several years at Akerman LLP, in January 2023, Jessica and her colleagues opened the Dallas office of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP where she is Senior Counsel focusing on consumer finance litigation and regulatory compliance counseling. Jessica believes this combination of both litigation and compliance practice allows her to offer clients unique insight when defending against private rights of action based on state and federal regulations and when counseling clients during a regulatory exam or the creation and implementation of new financial products or processes.
For all the animal lovers out there, Jessica is a proud owner of an 11-month-old bernedoodle, Hudson, whom she enjoys taking on daily jaunts through SMU and the Park Cities.