Courtney Tito’s law office is in a sleek high-rise overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. The water sparkles like a dowager’s diamonds. Further east, Palm Beach palaces are ensconced behind towering palm trees and hedges. The spacious lobby is graced with elegant, black-and-white photos of the Palm Beaches. On her floor in the building, the walls are a muted yellow, adorned with tasteful works of art.
Tito’s surroundings weren’t always so serene.
For seven months, her office was a converted shipping container with one window, a basic bathroom and a couple of desks. Some days she could hear bombs and mortars exploding. Occasionally she had to wear a protective helmet and bulletproof vest and travel in armored curtained vehicles.
That was in Baghdad, Iraq in 2006 and 2007 – a place so dangerous she was assigned a bodyguard.
“Best job I ever had, hands down,” Tito says, and she’s serious.
By the time she left Baghdad, Tito had gained confidence and skills. And, not incidentally, a husband – her bodyguard. More on that later.
Today, Tito works in the West Palm Beach law offices of McDonald Hopkins, where she represents doctors, laboratories and other medical service providers in reimbursement disputes with insurers, and provides counsel in compliance issues.
So how did she end up in the balmy subtropics after a dangerous stint in a far-off desert?
After she got a law degree, Tito did insurance-related work and disliked it. So when she saw a job posting for a job in Iraq with the Public International Law & Policy Group, she applied. It’s a global law firm that provides free legal assistance to parties involved in peace talks, drafting post-conflict constitutions and war crimes prosecutions.
“I think one of the reasons they hired me is they said I was one of the few people who didn’t spend the entire interview asking about security. It was actually the type of work I had gone to law school to do,” says Tito, who has a master’s degree from the American University School of International Service.
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