Candelaria Crespo, Senior Associate, Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal.
How long have you been working for your current company?
I have been working for Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal for thirteen years.
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
While finishing my law studies at the Universidad Católica Argentina and studying for a Master’s degree at Universidad Austral, I worked as law clerk in the administrative law courts in Buenos Aires, which gave me great experience in understanding the judicial system from within.
After obtaining my Master’s , I joined Marval, O’Farrel & Mairal as a junior associate in the Administrative Law department directed by Héctor Mairal, one of the main partners of the firm.
As my career progressed, I had the opportunity to work on many challenging cases that enriched my knowledge and expertise.
Being part of a team also allowed me to develop the necessary interpersonal skills to motivate and encourage the lawyers of my group to give their best in providing legal assistance to clients.
I am currently a senior associate within the firm, and in this capacity I am in charge of different clients and deal with a broad range of administrative matters that require a high level of technical expertise
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
In the area of law I practice, generally the issues presented are challenging and require great agility in their solution, so many of them give me the satisfaction and pride on a job well done.
In particular, I am proud of my involvement in different major infrastructure projects. For instance, I have been involved in the first trust structured in Argentina for the widening of gas pipeline, and I also have been involved in the financial structuring and the drafting of the construction contract in a major hydroelectric project.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Nowadays, I am facing two great challenges consisting in enhancing my “soft skills” and updating my marketing skills.
In my current role, I am working on increasing my ability to lead teams by working closely with individual members of my team to give and receive constant motivational feedback.
Simultaneously, I continually work to increase and strengthen ties with clients and, at the same time, I promote the services of the firm among the connections I have to reach out to a wider client base.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
Balance between work and personal life is always present, especially being a mother of two children. I am lucky to have a very supportive husband, and this is essential when it comes to devoting extra hours to work when required.
While sometimes it is not easy, I work every day to achieve the desired balance since I understand that work and life are not opposed compartments, but different aspects of my life that are complementary and necessary to be a more complete person.
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?
When I decided to focus my career on administrative law, I could not help noticing that Dr. Héctor Mairal was the eminence in this field. I recognized in him the model of lawyer that clients expect.
Working as a member of his team, I learned from him the professionalism and thoroughness with which the work must be addressed, as well as the consistent application of the virtues of prudence and empathy when advising clients ,which I have taken as my professional guideline.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
Corporate diversity initiatives are effective if they are planned seriously and not just to fulfil a social or cultural requirement.
It is import that corporations recognise diversity, not only gender, but also religious, cultural, and ethnic.
Recognizing different realities and needs leads to more motivated people and allows them to fully develop their potential.
Furthermore, in a world that is becoming increasingly more diverse, it is essential that Law firms promote diversity within their staff, so they can understand and better relate to clients’ different needs and demands.
As far as methods are concerned, I think that the most effective ones are those implemented as part of a corporate policy through the human resources department. This policy should be a guide to follow not only at the time of hiring or dismissing employees, but should also be respected every day to promote within the corporation the respect and recognition to the diversity present in all other areas of life.
As a practical application of this policy, in-house training and coaching could also be a tool to motivate people to open their minds and be more respectful and thoughtful with their fellows and understanding diversity as a plus.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
In my opinion, in Argentina the legal profession is still a field where men have prominence and women need to permanently demonstrate their capacity and validate their position.
In the early stages of my career I did feel that being a woman could be a disadvantage. However, as part of a generation of women who are improving their participation in top level positions, I recognize professional capacity as the distinctive feature and I learned how to deal with any prejudice that might arise.
I also see the advantage of being female when approaching problems and their solutions, and in the development of relationships within the firm and with clients.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
Technological evolution which allows remote work has been the most significant change for women in the legal industry over the past five years. For every woman, work- life balance has grown by the possibility of solving problems from work at home and vice-versa.
Another significant factor is the increasing role that women are having in different legal areas, not only in corporations, but also in the Government.
Moreover, non-discriminatory policies have also favoured the inclusion of female lawyers to companies and law firms in recent years, recognizing their contribution and the skills and point of view they bring to the table.