Please explain what you do for a living.
I am an attorney in Reed Smith LLP’s Complex Litigation Group. Although my litigation practice encompasses a broad range of commercial cases, I focus on commercial disputes stemming from contractual agreements, class action litigations, restrictive covenants work, and other complex business disputes.
How important in your identity is being Latino?
Very. I am inextricably linked to my Latino roots – emotionally, intellectually, and in every other measurable sense. My ethnicity, heritage, and the cultural context in which I grew up has forged my identity. Additionally, the Latino culture’s underlying work ethic and overall commitment to honesty and integrity has helped me develop as an attorney. Who we are, where we come from, is important, and Latinos in the professional sphere have a responsibility, not only to further the interests of the Latino voice in the community and public sector, but to excel in our respective professions and represent the values that have made the Latino community the bedrock of America’s workforce.
Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?
There are several aspects of being an Ecuadorian and a Latino that I value, but there are two traits common to both my nationality and ethnicity that I constantly appreciate: an unwavering sense of optimism and uncompromising respect for others. “Manners maketh man,” goes the saying, and no other culture embodies the principles of respect, empathy, and concern for the wellbeing of others quite like the Latino culture does. I treasure those core values and implement them in my daily life. Similarly, I learned from a very young age that, in life, our attitude is the only thing we have absolute control over. My father used to tell me: “there are no problems, only challenges.” Not a day goes by that I don’t recite those words, especially in the legal field, where challenges are aplenty.
Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)?
Although such things are not easily forgotten, through the years, I have made a concerted effort to draw positive lessons from any negative or discriminatory experiences associated with where I was born, what my name is, or the color of my skin. That takes discipline, patience, and understanding. The greatest soccer player of all time once said, “la bronca es mi combustible,” which loosely translates into “my frustration is my fuel.” I tell my younger brothers, one of whom is about to start college: focus on yourself, do the right thing, be kind to others, and learn to deflect the negativity you don’t need. If you can’t, then let it drive you. That’s how I see it, anyway.