There are a lot of people and moments I remember as having shaped my life. I remember long nights in law school. I remember role models who served as mentors. I remember special clients, colleagues, and cases. But no moment was more monumental than when I became a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins.
For me, it meant recognition for performing quality legal work, generating business, having a good rapport with clients, and demonstrating my ability to sustain and grow those skills. It meant even more coming from a firm that works to train, develop, and mentor attorneys, retaining its reputation as one of the best.
Ogletree is one of the premier labor and employment law practices in the country. We have more than 700 attorneys and more than 300 shareholders. We represent companies on all issues relating to labor and employment, which might include harassment, retaliation, union matters, etc. At our firm, it’s a special day when someone is hired because it’s a validation of all the hard work necessary to work at a top firm. But the hard work doesn’t stop there. You have to truly excel at a firm to make shareholder. It’s a lifelong process.
I was born in Havana, Cuba and came to the United States at age three. My father was a political prisoner for fighting against Castro. He became an immigration lawyer and showed me that just because we had made it to this great country, that didn’t mean we could stop working hard. I understood at a young age that nothing would be handed to us. My siblings and I knew we needed an education, and we knew we needed to push ourselves. Now at age 38, I believe that America really is the land of opportunity, but you have to work very hard at it. The opportunities are there if you can motivate yourself. Becoming a shareholder at a firm such as Ogletree Deakins fortified this belief.
I’ve been practicing law in Florida since 2000, and becoming a shareholder is a goal that took just over a decade to reach. I’ve grown as a lawyer at this firm and feel personally integrated in its culture. I met my wife through clients. What I enjoy the most about my practice today are the relationships I get to build. I’ve always wanted to handle cases driven by people, not paper. That’s what drew me to labor and employment.
Being an immigrant myself, issues of identity, fairness, and discrimination are close to my heart. I enjoy being able to advise clients, not just defend them. When you’re giving advice, you’re helping them address something in a proactive way. I love the feeling of being able to resolve a big problem for a client.
I feel like I’ve made it, becoming a shareholder. Now, I want to keep growing as a lawyer and develop my expertise further, so I can bring more value to my clients and to the firm each year. When I first started my career, I was just trying to figure out if I even liked being an attorney. Then I had to figure out what area of law I enjoyed. Finally, I had to decide if I liked the firm. Thankfully, all of those questions have now been answered. My new quest is simply to keep moving, growing, and learning.