CASE STUDY: Adelina Villalobos, Partner, BLP, Costa Rica
Why did you want to be a lawyer?
Growing up, I was very much influenced by my father who was a judge, as I always had great admiration for his sense of justice. It made me want to be a lawyer to be able to contribute to change in our society, as I believe that the fundamental concept of the law should be to improve people’s lives.
What was the best piece of advice given to you during your career?
At the age of 30, when I was an associate, one of the partners at the firm said to me, “If you want something, you have to say it”. It is a very simple piece of advice, but I found it very enlightening, as sometimes as a woman it can be difficult to express what you want.
This is part of a cultural change that we need to address, and one I am deeply committed to being a part of. Not being able to express what you want assertively, impacts your career, so I had to learn to effectively communicate what I wanted for my professional development, without being afraid of sounding pretentious.
What’s your best piece of advice to other women wanting a legal career?
A career in law for women can still be a challenging path, particularly if you are ambitious and want to reach high-ranking positions. Unfortunately, in our jurisdiction, we still have very few women as law firm partners or in key justice roles.
However, my advice to any women wanting a legal career would be to never question your capabilities and to always take risks. There will be many alternative ways to reach your goals and fortunately, there are many fellow legal professionals willing to become your mentors and help you grow.
What has been your career highlight?
After several years in a variety of management and leadership roles, I was promoted to partner in 2018. This happened four years after my son was born, so being able to combine motherhood and doing what I love was a challenge, but I persevered and found a way to make it work and still set myself career goals.
Fortunately, my career has given me the opportunity to work on many interesting and significant projects, not only in my area of expertise, which is corporate and M&A, but also pro-bono projects which make a positive impact in my country.
What are your future goals?
In the short term, my focus is to continue establishing my role as a partner within the firm and continuing my work as part of BLP’s gender equality initiatives. However, I have always enjoyed combining my career with academic activities. One of my next goals is to be able to help support law students or young professionals, helping to provide the opportunities I have had. I would love to teach at a local Law School or be a mentor for new talent.