Federal Prosecutor

Camelia Lopez

Camelia Lopez, our January Mujer, is a federal prosecutor who works on high-profile cases involving everything from national security and money laundering to drug trafficking and cybersecurity. Despite the fact that her bio reads like a character from a Tom Clancy novel, her day-to-day life is a beautiful balance of executing and working on cases on behalf of our country and spending time with her family at home. Furthermore, Camelia is no stranger to Mi Golondrina’s familia (her sister, Eugenia Cass, is Mi Golondrina’s Director of Sales). We’re honored to feature this boss lady. Read her story and how she arrived at where she is today. 

Tell us a little bit about your childhood and what you envisioned becoming when you “grew up”.

I was a quiet, reserved kid and an avid reader.  But as I grew into a rebellious teenager, I remember my parents telling me I should be a lawyer because I was always ready to argue an opposing viewpoint – especially with them!  Although I didn’t think about going to law school until my junior year in college, I knew I’d go to graduate school for something.  My parents always prioritized education in our house.

At what point in your law career did you decide you wanted to move over to the prosecution side?

After finishing law school, I had a chance meeting with a former prosecutor to talk about criminal law. I didn’t think I would be interested- in fact, I never thought I would be the type of lawyer who handled jury trials - but I went to the meeting anyways figuring I’d learn something. And I was right! Two hours later I was convinced I would enjoy prosecution so I applied to the Dallas District Attorney’s office and the rest is history.  That taught me to always be open to new possibilities because you never know where you may find your passion.

Tell us a bit about what you do/what cases you work on/how you got there.

As a federal prosecutor, aka Assistant United States Attorney, I represent the United States in criminal matters.  I have handled many interesting cases involving money laundering, international drug trafficking, extradition, all types of fraud schemes, cyber intrusions, intellectual property violations, and national security issues.  I was lucky enough to have had supervisors that encouraged me to try it all and when the cyber position opened up, I was excited to jump in.  The national security work followed naturally, as the two often overlap.  It really is fascinating work and I feel privileged to do it.

My understanding is that you work a lot on white collar crime, terrorism, and cybersecurity cases.  As technology has evolved, how has that impacted your job, if at all?  Is it more challenging/less challenging?  

Great question! The answer is both – on the one hand, technology has given all of us the ability to access and store SO MUCH data. And with devices that are with us 24/7, we as investigators and prosecutors can access that information (through proper legal requests to the court) to prove our cases.  On the other hand, ever-evolving encryption sometimes makes it challenging for law enforcement to access the information they need.

Describe a typical week for you (perhaps during a case and preparing for a case).  What do your days look like?

No two weeks are the same! Some weeks I travel for meetings, speaking engagements, or training, and others I am in my office drafting pleadings, meeting with agents, or preparing for court appearances.  When I have to prepare for trial, I give my family a heads up because that means I could be at the office late into the evening for many nights or even in a hotel in Sherman for a month (it’s happened once or twice…).

Camelia Portrait
The best part of my job is that I get to do meaningful, interesting work with people I respect.

Finish this sentence: 

The best part of my job is that I get to do meaningful, interesting work with people I respect.

If you could go back in time and mentor your younger self, what would you say to her?

Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up! Enjoy the freedom that you have to learn everything in school, play sports, don’t be afraid to speak up, and don’t quit your piano lessons. 

How do you balance life and work?  Do you believe that balance is achievable?

I first have to accept that I simply cannot do all the things that I want, but rather, I can do what is truly important to me at the time.  I continuously think about my priorities and if I am satisfied with the attention I am giving to each.  Outside of work, it’s a constant cultivation of time for my daughters, my friends, exercise/personal care, volunteerism, growing my faith, and of course date nights with my husband.  I know I can’t tend to each of these things every week, but if I can feel good about 2 or 3 and then forgive myself for when I fall short in the others, then I am in a good place.

Are there a lot of women in your field?  How do you champion younger women in law, generally?

Our numbers are growing! Today there are more women than men in our law schools.  Nationwide, and certainly around the metroplex, there are many fine examples of women at the top of our field – judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.  Did you know that in Dallas, four of seven federal judges (including the Chief Judge), three of the four federal magistrate judges, and the United States Attorney, are all women?  Both federal magistrate judges in Plano and Sherman, too.  Talk about girl power!  One of my favorite things to do is talk to young women about law school and life as an Assistant United States Attorney.  Whether your passion is writing appeals, working civil cases, or trying criminal cases, there is something for everyone (and no billable hours!)

What do you wear on a typical day to work?

Because I am often in court, my work attire is pretty formal. I love feminine, classic styles, flattering dresses, clean lines, heels, and pearls. 

Camelia 2
One of my favorite things to do is talk to young women about law school and life as an Assistant United States Attorney. Whether your passion is writing appeals, working civil cases, or trying criminal cases, there is something for everyone (and no billable hours!)

Favorite scent:

In the bottle: Maison Francis Kurkdijan’s “A la Rose”

In nature: Jasmine and Gardenia

What would you eat for your last meal on earth?

A Peruvian-style beef empanada and a glass of champagne (or 2)

Life mantra

“Be anxious for nothing…” Phil. 4:6

Last thing you do before turning off the lights and going to bed:

I love to read. If I am really into a novel, I usually can’t put it down and stay up WAY too late.  Unfortunately, the reality is that I am usually reading news stories or other articles on my phone.