Choose to Challenge: Melissa Santiago

Meet Melissa Santiago

The balancing act of life and career goals will inevitably include points in which you are faced with significant challenges.

What have been the challenges faced in your professional career?

When I first graduated from law school, it was challenging to see the reality of the disproportionate numbers of women and diverse attorneys in leadership positions in our industry. NALP’s 2020 report on diversity in U.S. law firms found that women account for only 25 percent of partners in U.S. law firms and Latinas comprise less than 1 percent. These numbers hit hard for me personally. The good news is that the industry is becoming more aware of these disparities, taking action, and especially paying attention to retention and advancement of women and diverse attorneys. I hope numbers continue to improve, barriers continue to be removed, and inclusion remains a large part of the discussion. Our firm is doing a great job of intentionally addressing gaps and supporting our female attorneys in their career goals. 

What have you learned, what have you taken away from these experiences that helped shape the person you are today?

I’ve learned not to let numbers or statistics be an internal barrier for me in my personal or professional goals. It has motivated me to be more intentional in establishing my career goals and seeking out mentors who have navigated, or are currently navigating, the paths I wish to take. I’m fortunate to have phenomenal and supportive mentors, inside and outside of my practice group, who have stepped up and volunteered to guide me. Finding a community has also been critical. I'm involved with the Hispanic National Bar Association and have found it to be a great professional and personal resource.