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Daniella Deseta Lyttle is the managing partner at Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC, a boutique law firm in South Austin. Lyttle Law has attorneys specializing in family law, immigration law and wills and estates, and has over 30 years of combined experience. Lyttle is also a credentialed mediator, multilingual litigator (fluent in Spanish and Portuguese) and serves as the firm’s senior attorney. In addition, she oversees the strategic vision and company culture. One of Lyttle’s constant areas of focus is building a firm where diverse clients, both in Texas and internationally, have access to high-quality legal services, provided in a transparent, honest and ethical manner.
Q: Your journey to becoming an award-winning attorney at your own law firm is so inspiring. Did you always know you wanted to work in law?
I did not. I was the first person in my family to attend college and the first to attend graduate school. No one in my immediate circles had become a lawyer. I had no frame of reference. As a young woman, I felt that those kinds of positions were not for people like me. As I became older, more experienced and more exposed to education in general, I found the courage and the strength to believe in myself and follow my passion. I knew I was good at advocating for others, that I had the courage and ability to speak for others that could not speak for themselves and have empathy for those around me. In college, after various volunteering opportunities in the legal field, I knew I had found my passion, and I knew I would have to find a way to make that dream a reality.
Q: What inspired you to specialize in family and immigration law?
I started my firm, Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC, in 2010 with a focus on helping our community in Travis County with immigration issues. Soon thereafter, many of my clients (who were Spanish speaking) would return to my law office asking for bilingual help with their family law matters (divorce, paternity, child support issues, modifications, etc.). I was often the only lawyer my clients knew, and the only female Spanish-speaking lawyer they had contact with. When so many started to ask for family law help, I began helping them pro bono, fell in love with that area of law and quickly became a family lawyer as well as an immigration lawyer. It has been a very natural and complementary practice for me ever since. I believe that both family law and immigration law are transformational for people. They touch on issues and matters that, if handled with care, can help people become a better version of themselves, better family members and more productive members of society.
Q: How does your background as a first-generation U.S. citizen bring a new perspective to immigration law?
As an immigrant, I personally lived the experience of having to earn citizenship in the United States through my family. I saw how hard my family worked. I saw and lived within a community that was often marginalized and ignored without a voice or the power to voice concerns or issues in the community. Immigrants live with a lot of uncertainty and cannot take anything for granted. This perspective allowed me to truly help people in our community through their immigration problems with care, empathy and the power of having those shared lived experiences. My background has made me a very vocal, zealous advocate for my clients. I know for so many families, their immigration problems feel like a life-or-death scenario.
Q: What would you consider to be your greatest achievement in your career thus far?
I believe my greatest achievement was my ability to use my expertise in both immigration and family law to create legal solutions to keep children safe and with loved ones. I initiated and started the effort in creating hundreds of powers of attorney to designate guardians for children at risk of having their parents removed from the United States. There is no greater fear for a parent than the possibility of losing their child, than not knowing where their child is and not being able to provide for them. By creating a legal document that was able to accomplish proper relative and nonrelative guardianships, and by implementing free access and free clinics for people to access this legal help, I was part of the movement to keep families together. Families belong together, and I was honored that the Travis County Women Lawyer’s Association awarded me with the “Contribution to Minority Communities” award for my work.
Q: As a candidate for district judge, what is one of the most important changes you’d like to see in Austin?
If I am elected, I will be the first immigrant and the first female veteran to ever serve in a Civil District Court in Travis County. That change alone means a more inclusive judiciary that shares lived experiences with the community we serve. Where every person, no matter their background, can seek justice in a court of law without hesitation and with the expectation that the judge will put people first. That is the judge I am going to be. I would like to see changes and efforts being made to help litigants who represent themselves because they cannot afford an attorney, and to have more open and ease in getting an affordable interpreter for those who do not speak English.