Volunteering to Lead: Deborah Moskowitz, B.S. ’94

By UM News

Volunteering to Lead: Deborah Moskowitz, B.S. ’94

By UM News
A Q&A with Orlando 'Canes Community President Deborah L. Moskowitz, B.S. ’94.

Deborah L. Moskowitz, B.S. ’94, has built a successful career both in business law and in business. She is a managing partner and shareholder at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., the largest minority and women owned law firm in the country, where she’s practiced for close to 20 years.

Deborah L. Moskowitz

Moskowitz is also the owner of Fat Cat Gourmet Foods, a gourmet hot sauce and condiment company she operates with her husband. Fat Cat has garnered national recognition for its products, which are now sold throughout the world. 

We touched based with the Orlando ’Canes Community president to learn more about her career, time at the U, and the keys to her success.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in law?

When I was 13 years old, I had the opportunity to shadow our family attorney for a day. He took me to a hearing in court and I was hooked. From that point forward, everything I did in school was geared towards the end goal of becoming a lawyer. I loved how devoted and passionate he was on behalf of his clients. He told me that there were problems that only lawyers could solve for people. I never forgot that.  

How has your time at the University of Miami helped in your career?

I will always be grateful to Dr. Bruce Garrison in the School of Communication Dr. Garrison taught us how to uncover a wealth of information through public records. I still use the skills I learned in his research courses to this day.  Whether it is locating a lost witness or uncovering a prior statement made by a party, these skills help me be fully prepared for my cases.

I also am grateful for the lifelong friends and connections I made at the University. If I have a complex medical case, there is always someone through the medical school able to help me understand the concepts necessary for a successful case.

What has been the key to your success?

Don’t be afraid to jump. You have to be willing to take risks, albeit calculated ones, in order to succeed and grow. Be willing to make yourself uncomfortable. Work hard and never let anyone be more prepared than you are.

What are some challenges you’ve faced along the way and how did you overcome them?

Lawyers have to interface with people all the time, including clients, judges, court reporters, arbitrators, and witnesses in a variety of settings like depositions, hearings, client meetings, arbitrations and even trials. When the pandemic began, all of these interactions needed to be handled differently. But I am really proud of how our team rose to the challenge. We were able to get hundreds of people in the firm working on cases remotely and to ensure that our clients’ objectives continued to be met.

Don’t stress about the things you can’t change. It’s natural to be frustrated but move on and tackle the issues that you can address.

Define a great leader — what are some traits you think they possess?

I learned early on not to be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you. Leading successfully is not about always being right - it is about making sure that the people on your team have the tools to succeed. I also lead by example whenever possible. People don’t mind rolling up their sleeves when they see the person in charge working hard right along with them. I value the input of everyone on my team from the bottom to the top and I try to be as transparent as possible about why decisions are made.

What message would you send to other alumni and new grads?

Do not be afraid to ask for help. You would be astounded at the number of alumni who are willing to make time for you to help you meet your goals. Be respectful of their time and have your questions ready, but ask.

There are also so many tools available through the University, whether you are starting your own company or looking to make a career change.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

The one I have now. My mom would tell anyone who would listen that I was going to be a lawyer. I often defended my little brother and presented cases to my parents as to why he should not be grounded for his most recent transgression. We still joke about that.

Can you name a person who has been influential in your life? Why and how did this person impact your life?

Without question, my dad. He was the first person in our family to attend school beyond high school. He showed my brother and I the importance of education by earning not only an M.D., but also a Ph.D. in medicine. He was brilliant. He went to medical school in Switzerland and had to teach himself to read, write, and speak German in six weeks.

But one of the most special things to me about my dad was how he treated people. People would know my father for years and not realize he had invented medical procedures or spoke six languages. He was so down-to-earth and would treat you the same way, and with the same respect, whether you were a United States Senator or the dogcatcher. He understood the importance of giving back to the community. He instilled a commitment to service in his family that I still try to emulate every day.