2021 ACC Top 10 30-Something: Concepcion L. Valenzuela

The ACC Top 10 30-Somethings awards recognize in-house counsel between the ages of 30 and 39 for their innovation, global perspectives, proactive practice, advocacy efforts, and pro bono and community service work.

Confie’s mission is deeply personal to Concepcion “Conchita” Valenzuela. Growing up in the border town of San Ysidro, CA, Conchita could not help but notice the lack of resources available to her predominantly Latino community. Confie, the largest personal lines insurance agency in the United States, strives to provide automobile insurance, small business insurance, and employment opportunities to underserved communities that are often overlooked by other agencies and insurers.

As deputy general counsel, Conchita values the opportunity to “bring employee and customer needs to the forefront when assessing risk and providing legal advice.”

“I am a firm believer that companies can do well while doing good, and legal counsel have the opportunity to lead on this front,” she says. When it became clear that COVID-19 would be declared a pandemic and create disruption worldwide, her first thought was “How can we keep our employees safe, our customers safe, and our business thriving?” Conchita swiftly untangled county, state, national, and foreign regulations (Confie operates in Tijuana, Mexico, as well as the United States).

"I am a firm believer that companies can do well while doing good, and legal counsel have the opportunity to lead on this front."

Within days of the outbreak, she developed an initial template for COVID-19 retail employee communications, an Outbreak Response Plan, and remote work policies that Confie teams were quick to build upon and operationalize. Conchita also collaborated with Confie’s product teams to interpret industry guidelines that were being rolled out on an almost-daily basis.

Confie, which has more than 750 store locations and over 3,500 employees, qualified as an essential service provider, which allowed all of its retail stores to remain open for business and continued to serve customers online and by phone. “The default assumption was ‘nobody is driving during the pandemic,’ [so auto insurance is not a priority]” she notes, “but the majority of Confie’s customers continued to drive to work and rely on our services.” Like Confie, many were essential service providers themselves.

“As we all know, COVID-19 was an unprecedented crisis, but we managed through it and came out ahead,” she says. Conchita credits a good part of her success in guiding Confie’s pandemic response to the support of her ACC Southern California (SoCal) Chapter network. Since many in-house counsel were managing the same concerns, her network exchanged ideas and best practices to support their teams and customers.

Conchita has been an active member of ACC since she transitioned to in-house counsel in 2009. She found the comradery to be invaluable in the development of her in-house legal career. Conchita is an ACC SoCal board member and launched the Chapter’s Diversity Internship Program in 2020.  

The internship program places diverse law students in paid legal internships at businesses throughout Southern California and provides ongoing mentorship. Thanks to the overwhelming support of the founding sponsors and a dedicated working committee, there are now 12 companies, including Confie, that will host interns in 2021.

"I know the challenges of breaking into professional fields without a roadmap."

Discussing her mission to spearhead a program that will create a new pipeline of diverse attorneys, Conchita shares, “I know the challenges of breaking into professional fields without a roadmap.” As a first-generation college graduate and law student, she learned the importance of mentorship and sponsorship to navigating the options a legal career presents.

“Students benefit immensely from having a guide and advocate — someone who’s going to get to know them and their potential and create opportunities for them,” she says.

In addition to creating talent pipelines, Conchita is also a participant in one. She was selected to be a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s PODER25 program — a highly selective, intensive incubator of top legal talent that is focused on increasing the number of Hispanic general counsel at Fortune 500 companies.

Conchita's work for Confie, she explains, aligns with her purpose to provide everyone a fair chance to reach their full potential. At Confie, this means working with a talented team to help people obtain insurance that helps them “have the mobility to commute to work or school so that they can support their families and pursue their aspirations.”