Priscila David Sansone Tutikian, Senior Associate, Veirano Advogados.
How long have you been working for your current company?
9 and a half years.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I am a senior associate of the firm and I have been the regional coordinator of the Civil Law/Contracts Area of Porto Alegre’s office for 5 years (until 2009). This area of expertise comprises: contracts, real estate, consumer and product liability and arbitration. My professional history involves tasks related to (i.) analysis of national and international contracts, drafting opinions and legal opinions about the matter; (ii.) legal structuring of new business; (iii.) negotiations (for entering into new ones and about exiting) and closing of the deals; (iv.) legal acting in lawsuits especially related to contracts area of expertise; (v.) training in-company for business customers about: discrimination from the perspective of Brazilian law, contracts, liability and safety, contract management etc..;(vi.) legal assistance in recall programs; (vii.) sponsorship of Arbitration, such as one before the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada involving construction contracts.
When I started working at Veirano, I was a recently graduated, junior lawyer, and less than 2 years after that I have already started working as a local coordinator, so I guess my level of expertise and posture towards life made me get where I am and will help me through my future plans of becoming a partner in my firm.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
I cannot choose one, as there are many. But is always a great feeling of achievement having meetings with worldwide legal-counsels of the firm’s clients and being sure they are really secure and confident with the job we perform for them as they recognise this orally, praising our performance.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
The greatest challenges are to keep on doing the good job I do and prospecting more and more new clients to the firm without neglecting the ones we already have. Also, I have to be more known in the market. I believe the way to overcome this is by showing myself in workshops, writing more articles and things like that.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
It is not that hard. I have recently become a mother (I have a two-year old boy at home) but I could come back to work part-time after a 3.5 month leave and full time after another 2.5 months and nowadays I can say I am totally adapted to my triple journey (professional, mother and wife). I also feel, as a positive element of the women in the market, that men respect us even more when they realise we can be excellent professionals despite having a child at home, even if we cannot be that flexible for meetings.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
Not really. I do not remember anyone specific. In general, I have just admired people who conquered high positions and good jobs as a result of their hard and qualified work, as I always try to do.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
Unfortunately, in my firm, despite of a lot of other positive aspects in our career development, I cannot feel any programs directed to women differences in the market. We do not have any specific support from a financial standpoint to have a baby for instance, as the firm does not have maternity leave or any other diversity initiative related to that.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
Yes. Sometimes the first reaction of the clients is negative, maybe simply because they were expecting a man. But this ends up changing as they get to know me. On the contrary, in some other situations being a woman is even valued by clients who have already mentioned that the women are better negotiators, as they can better and faster examine the whole picture and all its implications.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
No doubt that the most significant change in the past years was the great increase on the number of female lawyers. The university classrooms already show that, as many times the number of women per class is a lot higher than the number of men. In Brazil, we have recently had the first woman as a Minister of our Supreme Court, which also promotes a good image of women's strength and credibility. As in many other professions, the increased number of women also makes everybody get used to a more dynamic way of treating things, as well as to a more intelligent emotional approach.