Editors’ Note: Read about Astrid Menendez-Muharram, a Miami associate in our Transactions Department, in the latest installment of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series.
Being a member of the Latinx community is possibly the “credential” I am proudest of and being multilingual is one my favorite skills. While one may think that it is because of the “upper hand” this identity may give someone in the international corporate arena, the real value of those characteristics comes from the pride I feel in being part of such a strong community. The Latinx community is one characterized by colorful backgrounds, rich cultures, and a hunger to succeed that is unmatched by most. Growing up and to this day, I have continuously been surrounded by a strong Latinx presence. My father being Cuban and my mother being Puerto Rican led me to have a strong sense of culture and pride from a young age. That strong sense of culture was only strengthened by growing up in Miami, Florida, surrounded by the melting pot of different cultures, and then by eventually marrying into the Brazilian culture, I sealed the proverbial “multicultural deal.” Such exposure to varying heritages played a pivotal role in my personal and professional development as well as my sense of self.
I did not always aspire to become a lawyer. Instead, I saw myself as someone more suited for a traditional corporate/financial career. Eventually focusing my practice on M&A and transactional work ended up being the perfect marriage of the two. However, I would be lying if I said that such path was the obvious one or that I initially thought my career in Big Law would be a long tenure. I mistakenly believed that the path to success and longevity in a Big Law career would be plagued by lack of understanding from colleagues as to personal accomplishments (e.g., marriage, motherhood, etc.), differing backgrounds, a lack of balance, and a lack of “fitting into” the traditional mold. MoFo disproved my mistaken belief and, after participating in and being witness to its mentorship and diversity programs, I realized that the firm genuinely values its talent and the diversity that such talent brings (from a cultural perspective as well as from an identity/value perspective).
MoFo’s investment and long-term foresight in the Latin American culture and market is evidenced by its being one of the first Big Law firms to open its doors in Miami, a city vibrant with opportunity and deeply rooted in the Latinx culture. MoFo’s progressivism in the diversity of its firm and its offerings was at the core of my decision to join the firm after a cross-country move to Denver, Colorado. While my personal transition from Miami to Denver was an adjustment, MoFo and its leadership (a substantial number of whom are themselves diverse) invested in my development and considered ways to make my adjustment to a new office, a new city, and a new culture more organic. In my time with MoFo, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of the initiatives implemented by firm leadership as it relates to diversity of the workforce and have reaped these benefits by participating in these initiatives through the years. MoFo’s genuine commitment to all aspects of diversity, including the Latinx community, is something that initially attracted me to the firm and is one of the most vital reasons for me staying. I truly believe that the tapestry of talent MoFo employs is the key reason for its success and the quality of the “well-rounded” work product produced. Different backgrounds lead to different thinking, approaches, and styles and the marriage of such variances is key in providing collaborative and innovative services.
I credit my identity as a first-generation Latin American as playing the most vital role in paving my career path. The ability to celebrate such identity and heritage through the firm’s programming is an honor. While I enjoy what I do professionally in the office, it is what I do during my free time that fills me with the most purpose. Moving back to Miami with my husband and our two boys has allowed us to enjoy our extended family, the outdoors, and our culture. Being close to “home,” family, and friends, and the values and traditions we grew up with, is something we prioritize for our children. When you don’t find me outdoors with my family (generally biking, boating, or in the pool), you can find me deep-diving into the newest true crime thriller/headline, as I like to moonlight as a wannabe detective on my time off.