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Marissa Dean and Kayla Wood

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Bold & Balanced

Meet the Women of Allen Texas Attorneys

Being a woman in law can have its challenges and misconceptions. Finding a healthy balance between motherhood and having a successful legal career is the reality for the female partners of Allen Texas Attorneys. Carolyn Northcutt, Elizabeth Dean, Marissa Balius, and Kayla Wood have experienced their fair share of their passion and dedication being put to the test. 

As Elizabeth Dean puts it, “It’s like sprinting a marathon.” 

Despite the challenges, Dean feels that being a lawyer has always been worth it. She’s proud of achieving her dreams of becoming a lawyer and serving the community. At the age of 16 and with limited resources available, Dean began working in order to help support herself, including pursuing her undergraduate degree and paying for law school with loans. After she graduated from law school and received a position with a top litigation firm in Dallas, she soon realized the difficulty of finding a balance between her career and raising a family.  

“I eventually took a break from law to raise my children. Once they were older, I went back to work . . .  fulfilling my passion of helping people with their legal problems,” Dean recounts. 

Similarly, Carolyn Northcutt married young and had four children in her twenties. As the realities of providing for her family of six set in, Northcutt knew that when she rejoined the workforce, she wanted to be compensated for her worth.

“I finished the last 63 hours of college with a degree in accounting in 17 months with a 3.85 average,” Northcutt recalls.  

She passed the CPA exam, became a real estate broker, started a real estate business, Texas Best Realty, and graduated law school at the age of 48.  

Northcutt’s family always supported her pursuits. When she was ready to open her own office, her father loaned her $10,000, to “hang out my own shingle,” Northcutt remembers.  She set up shop in Allen, where she has continued to grow her legal practice over the last 23 years, welcoming her partner, Dean, in 2000, and adding four experienced attorneys who share her passion to help and serve the community.

Marissa Balius, who originally wanted to become an actress, developed an interest in practicing law when she was in high school and “did debate for the first time.” Balius’ parents both earned degrees, so she knew the importance of getting an education.

“For me, juggling the responsibilities of home and work is a challenge, and learning to leave the work at work so you have healthy boundaries and quality family time is important,” Balius shares.

Being an attorney can be emotionally tough, especially with long work hours, but Balius knows the broader picture and recognizes her devotion to her career. 

“Helping people is why I wanted to become an attorney,” Balius adds, “So it is rewarding to hear from my clients the positive impact I had on their lives as I helped them navigate the legal process.”

A major misconception these women have faced is the feeling of being underestimated. There are stereotypes that women are ‘too emotional’ or, according to Kayla Wood, not “as smart or as good as men in the courtroom.” 

Wood, who specializes in estate planning, remembers that when she first started practicing she was regularly the only woman in the room. 

“I had to be tough to handle the perceived misconception that I (and therefore my client) would be an easy target,” Wood recalls. “Although sometimes people can underestimate you and your abilities, I use that to my advantage. Let them come to me unprepared. I’ll always be prepared and hopefully they won’t see me coming!”

To learn more about Allen Texas Attorneys, visit their website at or call their offices at (972) 390-1608.

  • Elizabeth Dean, Kayla Wood, Marissa Balius, and Carolyn Northcutt
  • Elizabeth Dean, Carolyn Northcutt, Marissa Dean, and Kayla Wood
  • Marissa Dean and Kayla Wood

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