Female Founders: Christina Terplan of Atheria Law On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
8 min readAug 27, 2021


A good business plan — Know your area of business inside and out. Ask yourself, “How will money come in? When will it come in? What are your realistic costs?” Vet your plan with knowledgeable people whose opinions you value and who will be critical by asking you difficult questions about your plan.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Terplan.

Christina Terplan is president and a founding partner at Atheria Law, a California-based law firm providing legal services to insurance and reinsurance clients, focusing on the technology, privacy, cyber, and professional-liability sectors. Christina represents insurers in connection with claims involving privacy breaches, cyber attacks and data usage issues.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

As an undergraduate, I studied engineering and then went to UC Hastings with the intention of becoming a patent lawyer. However, after graduating law school, I was, quite honestly, focused on paying off my student loans! I knew that getting out of debt was important to my future personal and financial freedom so I joined a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.

I enjoyed working with the attorneys in my practice group. But then the group left the mid-size firm to join a larger firm…and then a larger firm. We ultimately found ourselves at a large, international firm and after a while, I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me. For years, I had been asking myself, “What if I started my own firm?” I envisioned a nimble, tech-savvy law firm that allowed for more flexibility, where I could have a say in business decisions and make an impact on the company culture. When I broached the subject with my fellow founding partners (over half of whom are women), we decided rather than move to yet another firm, we would take the leap and start our own firm. In October 2019, Atheria Law was born.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Recently, a female attorney shared with me that this is the first law firm job where she’s felt she doesn’t have to be constantly on guard. It made me proud that we have created a culture of transparency and mentorship at Atheria Law where our attorneys feel they can grow and be themselves because, so often that’s not the case for women in the traditional, male-dominated law firm environment. It drove home the fact that the female leadership at our firm is having a significant, positive impact on the next generation of female leaders.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I really try to avoid the concept that something is a “mistake.” Rather, I try to keep the perspective that a decision that leads to a negative outcome is really just a growth opportunity, as long as you take the time to reflect on, and learn from, that decision.

When Atheria Law opened its first “official” office in San Francisco (we had been working out of a WeWork space initially), one lesson I learned the hard way was to never, ever do your own signage. We purchased our signs online, thinking we could simply apply the vinyl lettering to our front door and reception area. How hard could that be? Well, it was a total disaster, so we decided to stick to law and we quickly brought in the professionals!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am most grateful for our business manager, Mark Cooley. Mark mentored me when Atheria Law was still just a dream. My legal and engineering training had made me lean toward being cautious and risk averse. My fellow founding partners and I needed someone to instill confidence in us to make the firm happen. As an entrepreneur with a strong business background, Mark was that person.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

The lack of adequate and affordable childcare and parental leave is one major factor that holds women back from founding companies. Women often bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities and in the United States, parental leave is typically very different for men and women. As a result, women are often out of the workforce longer than men when a child is born, and this has consequences with respect to their careers.

In addition, there is a lack of female leadership in the legal industry. All the law firms I worked at prior to Atheria Law were run by men, and there were very few women in meaningful management positions. This lack of visible female leadership made it difficult to ever imagine myself in a management position.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

We need better and more affordable childcare alongside equal parental leave and more media attention to female founders who have a great impact on our society. My daughters can name many male founders of companies but struggle to name any female founders. Just as I had difficulty envisioning myself in a law firm leadership role due to a lack of female representation at law firms, I worry the lack of representation of female leaders in business could have a similar effect on my children.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I have a love/hate relationship with statements about women making better leaders or founders because they are more empathetic or have some other type of inherent personality trait assigned to their gender. To me, empowering more female founders is purely logical. The make-up of founders should reflect the make-up of our society.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

A couple of myths are that it is always exciting and that the company will be successful if you work hard. While entrepreneurship has many exciting moments, there’s plenty of drudge work, as well. For example, I will never find it fun to pay our company’s bills or review the details of a 50-page lease agreement. And hard work is a necessity but, unfortunately, not a guarantee of success. Many companies fail despite a ton of hard work by the founders. Sometimes the company is great with incredibly dedicated leadership, but there are external factors beyond anyone’s control that cause the company to fail. We saw this, in particular, with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Definitely not everyone is cut out to be a founder. There is a certain amount of resiliency and flexibility needed. For example, some days I find myself negotiating an important contract and then acting as our on-site IT support for an employee who is having technology issues. That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking employment under someone else, as people should pursue their own paths and harness their gifts in a way that is best for them.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Professional support network — You need people who you can turn to for advice on all types of topics, such as what to outsource, how to manage communications, etc.

2) Resilience — Remember, there are no mistakes if you learn from them and adapt accordingly.

3) Personal support network — You need people outside of work to help you switch off at times and keep you sane.

4) A good business plan — Know your area of business inside and out. Ask yourself, “How will money come in? When will it come in? What are your realistic costs?” Vet your plan with knowledgeable people whose opinions you value and who will be critical by asking you difficult questions about your plan.

5) Confidence — You need to believe in your business. Customers and investors can sniff out a fake a mile away. If you don’t truly believe in your business, no one else will.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I am truly committed to mentoring women and people who are first-generation professionals in the legal field.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am passionate about addressing climate change. The changing of our climate feels very real right now. I am concerned about what the world will look like for my children when they are adults and for future generations. We need to act now.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Miss Piggy. No joke, she was the first strong female figure I looked up to as a child. She went to outer space, ran her own business and bossed people around, all while looking fabulous and wearing heels.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.