Elida Moran is currently the director of legal affairs for telecommunications giant T-Mobile—but her professional success has not come easily. Moran comes from a family of “first-generationers”: her great-grandmother emigrated from Norway, her maternal grandfather from Mexico, and her father from Peru. Her father met her mother while living in Seattle—he was only fifteen credits shy of a degree when Moran’s parents found out they were pregnant with her, so her father decided to instead become a welder.
Because he was not able to officially receive his degree, Moran’s parents and grandmother made it their mission to prioritize her education, and she took that seriously. She attended the University of Washington for her undergraduate studies, and while there, decided that she wanted to pursue a JD.
In between her studies, Moran secured a position in the banking industry to try to save up money to pay for law school. However, she quickly realized that she would not be able to do it without taking out a loan—a realization that made her all the more appreciative of the value of her graduate education.
“Funding law school on my own gave me a sense of, ‘I really need to get this and do well,’” Moran recalls. “I loved to read, and I loved the analysis, and I loved to learn . . . I really treated it like a job.”
None of her family members were lawyers, Moran notes, so she learned key skills like networking all on her own. Soon after law school, she landed a job as a contract paralegal at T-Mobile. Initially, she was tasked with simple data entry—but Moran was determined to take on more responsibility. “The way that I was brought up is that you just jump in and help,” she explains. “You just roll up your sleeves; you’re not waiting for an invitation to do something.”
Moran’s willingness to help did not go unnoticed, and she quickly caught the attention of one of T-Mobile’s in-house attorneys.
“Based just on her [the in-house attorney’s] observations of me willing to do just about anything to help the team, she said, ‘I really need help managing the commercial leasing portfolio. I’d like to offer you a job. It won’t be an attorney job because we don’t hire right out of law school, but I will commit to training you so that you will learn the business and learn what’s needed in order to advance to an attorney position,’” Moran recalls. She took the position because she loved the business aspect of corporate law.
Ever since that day, Moran has dedicated herself to mentoring others. As director of legal affairs, she makes a point of leading by example and aspires to be seen by others the way that she saw her own mentors. If law students want to meet to talk about a corporate position, she makes the time.
She also learned a lot about taking ownership to manage her career by being selected as a T-Mobile LCLD (Leadership Council on Legal Diversity) 2018 Fellow and a HNBA LELP (Latina Executive Leadership Program) participant. These experiences helped her become a better manager. “As a manager, it’s also incumbent upon me to know my team’s career goals in order to help them advance,” she emphasizes.
The strong relationships Moran has cultivated at T-Mobile, including relationships with T-Mobile’s partners, have set both her and the company up for further success. As Ramina Dehkhoda-Steele, partner in charge at Wong Fleming, remarks, “Wong Fleming is a strong supporter of NAMWOLF (The National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms) and its purpose. It is through Ms. Moran’s tireless advocacy, combined with NAMWOLF’s role as facilitator, that Wong Fleming is now counsel to T-Mobile.”
Moran also makes a point of connecting with and supporting individuals and organizations beyond T-Mobile. “Growing up, there weren’t any Peruvians that we knew of in Seattle, but my mom, being born and raised here, makes it home,” she says. Because the number of Peruvian lawyers is even smaller than that of Peruvian Americans, Moran is always excited to meet any fellow Peruvian lawyer.
To further connect with both the Latino community and other diverse attorneys, she stays actively involved with the Hispanic National Bar Association (Corporate Counsel Section), the Latino Bar Association of Washington, and is a board member of both the Association of Corporate Counsel of Washington and LEAD-WA (Legal Employers Advancing Diversity in Washington).
In her LEAD-WA role, Moran can connect with diverse 1L law students at the three Washington law schools and support T-Mobile’s summer legal interns as they start their careers. She has also served on numerous Parent Teacher Student Association boards to ensure that equity is prioritized within her daughters’ schools.
According to Moran, these organizations have connected her with countless impressive people and attorneys. She tries to attend as many of their events as possible, even if she needs to pay for them out of pocket.
The HNBA holds a special place in her heart. “When I first walked into an HNBA event, I didn’t know anybody,” she says. “But once I stepped in the door, instantly people started introducing themselves to me, and there were a few people I did know since the Latino legal community is relatively small. Being largely introverted, I just felt welcomed to the family and a sense of belonging.”
Despite all the strong connections she has made in the legal field, Moran remains most grateful for the support she has received and continues to see from her family. About a year ago, her youngest daughter interviewed Moran’s father for a school project. He said, “Your mom has done such incredible work. She’s worked really hard. She’s become really successful, and she did it all on her own.”
Moran remembers tearing up when she heard this. She would not be where she is today, she stresses, without her father’s sacrifices, her parents’ commitment to providing her with education opportunities, and most importantly, her family’s love. And not a single day goes by that she forgets that fact. Moran hopes to provide this same support to her daughters.