Family has always been high among Deborah Cordova’s priorities; she grew up in Mission as one of two daughters among eight siblings in total.
When the time came for her to pursue a career, she decided to utilize her skills in numbers and attended St. Mary’s University School of Law to contribute to her family’s business.
This year, Cordova marks 20 years in practice as a transactional attorney – a career that has allowed her to work with her family, help other small businesses, represent individuals and give back to the Rio Grande Valley.
“‘I always envisioned returning to the Rio Grande Valley to contribute to my community and experience the continuation of development and growth,” she said. “You have to be passionate about what you do to be successful. What keeps me going as an attorney is being able to represent my clients to the best of my ability by resolving issues – whether it’s a partnership dispute, a contract, a real estate closing or an estate matter. I truly enjoy helping others.”
Cordova is a founding partner at Walsh McGurk Cordova Nixon, PLLC and specializes in real estate, corporate law, estate planning and probate. In addition to her work, she serves on various boards relating to education, women and children, including Texas Women Lawyers, State Bar of Texas Women and the Law Council, Girl Scouts of Greater South Texas, Junior Service League of Mission, Teach for America – RGV and others.
When deciding whether to get involved with another organization, Cordova first ensures it aligns with her values and that she can make a meaningful contribution. She recently completed a 14-year term on the Boys and Girls Club of Mission Advisory Board — a full circle moment for her as she and her siblings partook in a Boys and Girls Club as children.
Beyond the local impact she helps create through her involvement in nonprofits serving a single city or county, Cordova also sits on state and regional boards, including St. Mary’s University School of Law Alumni Board and recently completed her three-year term as Director on the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors.
One she holds especially dear to her heart is the Rio Grande Valley Partnership Chamber of Commerce, which she has been involved with for 13 years and became the first chairwoman in the organization’s, at the time, 68-year history. There have since been two other chairwomen.
“We focus on healthcare, education, economic development and transportation – regional issues that are important to the RGV,” Cordova said. “The RGV Partnership is a vital component to the region because all four counties come together to collectively voice what is important to our region as a whole.”
She shares her parents, Oscar Cordova and Casilda Cordova, have been her biggest role models throughout her life and it’s through their strong work ethic and family commitment she witnessed and had instilled in her that she has been able to achieve her own successes.
Most recently Cordova was recognized in the New York Times as a 2021 Power Lawyer. In 2020 and 2021 she was recognized as a Lawyer of Distinction. Also in 2020, she was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce under the “Professional” category. In 2017, she was a recipient of the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame by the City of Hidalgo and in 2016 was awarded for her outstanding community service as Woman of the Year on behalf of the citizens of Mission. Between 2007 and 2015, she was recognized as a Texas Rising Star.
“You look up to your role models and they help motivate and shape you into the best person you can be,” she said.
Similarly, she hopes to set an example for young professionals in the RGV.
“I’m hoping newly licensed attorneys are able to see they can also be a successful attorney while being involved and making an impact in the community,” Cordova said. “It has been an instrumental change to see more women practicing transactional law and also involved in our community by serving on boards and councils.”
Over the years she has been practicing, she said it’s been fulfilling to see these changes.
As much as she values serving others, Cordova said she also practices self-care. Since her work carries into evenings and weekends, she grounds herself each day by rising each morning at 4 a.m. for an active workout and enjoys a moment of solitude.
“My self-discipline, accountability, and consistency sets me up for the rest of the day and the rest of the week,” she said. “Getting that hour and a half to myself of working out and clearing my mind allows me to start analyzing what my workday is going to look like and what events I am able to participate in.
“So, when it’s time to get to the office, I’m ready to go.”
For others interested in making an impact in their community and looking for a place to start, Cordova recommends researching local organizations and reaching out to its board members.
“Ask them, ‘what’s the mission? what’s the purpose? what’s the vision of the organization?'” she said. “And if that fits well within what you want to represent and what you embody, then I recommend to start by first serving on a committee.
“It’s extremely important to get involved because that is the only way that not only the legal community, but our region will continue to prosper.”