Diversity is an important cornerstone of Wittliff | Cutter. In addition to putting a priority on gender and ethnic diversity, we also value having lawyers with a diversity of interests.
Take of counsel Erin M. Eckhoff, for example. She’s a civil litigator— with extensive experience in business litigation and Texas Public Information Act requests and disputes— who is also committed to her pro bono innocence work, defending those on death row in post-conviction proceedings. She’s also a big fan of K-Pop band BTS and can recommend a song for almost every mood or activity.
As managing partner María Amelia Calaf puts it, Erin is “thoughtful, detail-oriented, committed to her clients and an excellent colleague. We are so lucky to have her on our team.”
In this Q&A, Erin discusses her journey to the firm, her most fulfilling cases, and what song to play when you’re looking for some motivation.
1. You worked in Chicago and New York before coming to Austin. How did you decide to make the move?
Although Austin is an amazing city in its own right, we moved to Austin mostly for family reasons: We wanted to be closer to family after having our first child. Austin was a natural fit because my husband’s family is in the area and my sister had already moved here. I also had some friends here, including María Amelia Calaf, a Wittliff Cutter partner who I had been lucky to work with (and be mentored by) while working in New York. All of that made Austin feel like home to us quickly and we are happy to be here!
2. Tell us more about your experience advocating for death row inmates. Can you talk about a particularly notable or impactful case?
I can’t discuss any particular case that I worked on because they all still have appeals pending, but I can say that each and every case I worked on was impactful.
To effectively represent death row inmates, you have to do a thorough investigation of your client’s entire life, including forging relationships with their friends and family members and exploring the traumas they all experienced. It is emotionally, psychologically and often physically draining work, but when done well, you often end up knowing more about your client than your client knows about themselves.
Some of the best “wins” in that practice come from simply helping your clients understand themselves and their lives better. From there, it comes down to what I believe is one of the most important litigation skills generally (and the one I most enjoy practicing): funneling all of that insight into (hopefully) effective and persuasive storytelling.
3. We hear you’re a fan of BTS. For us K-Pop newbies, what’s on your list of the top three BTS essential songs?
This is such a difficult question to answer! I’m relatively new to the BTS fandom—I was only introduced to them last year even though they’ve been around since 2013. I’ve always been interested in dance, so their choreography is what originally caught my attention. I quickly learned that they are incredibly talented: they perform music across genres, and they write and produce much of their own music.
I also really respect that they don’t shy away from taking stands on social issues and addressing mental health in their music. And their live performances are top-tier.
But to your actual question… I’m not sure I’m equipped to identify which three BTS songs may be considered essential, but I’ve tried to identify a few songs that show the group’s range.
Run BTS: This is a high-energy hype song that I really like to listen to when I need motivation, whether to tackle a workout or knock out a brief.
Black Swan: This is a moody, more laid back R&B-influenced pop song that I think is great for driving.
00:00 (Zero O’Clock): This is a soothing pop ballad that reminds me, after a difficult day, to take the opportunity to reset and try to do better tomorrow.
4. How does Wittliff | Cutter’s mission as a firm align with your own values as an attorney?
Wittliff | Cutter is an amazing firm, and I truly enjoy working with all of my colleagues. What I value most is the firm’s focus on inclusion, and that the partners working here are dedicated not only to creating opportunities for growth, but also making sure that everyone feels appreciated for their efforts and are essential to the team. I appreciate and am encouraged by the sense of collective effort and collective success that permeates the work we do here.