Maria Fernanda Gandarez
Partner, Pryor Cashman, New York, USA
I was attracted to a career in the law as I wanted to help the community I lived in. As an immigrant, it was important to ensure the legal system reflected and addressed the concerns of the immigrant community.
Becoming a lawyer was a huge achievement - I was the first in my family to go to high school, college and law school. Having my mother, who can’t read or write in any language, at my law school graduation, was a real treat! I now lead the mobility practice at Pryor Cashman, and I look forward to continuing to drive its growth.
At the start of my career I was given lots of great advice, from my mother; Betsy Plevin, a former law partner; and Rick Ford, my legal clinic mentor when I was in law school. It can be summarized as, “Be true to yourself and follow your heart with integrity and compassion.” It is something I have tried to follow throughout my career.
I am now in the position where I can mentor the next generation of professionals – both men and women. The piece of advice I now give is to trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions. And, make sure you take the time to be aware of, and support your colleagues – both male and female, so you can one day be a mentor and leader.