Tatiana Monastyrskaya, Senior Associate, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I joined Skadden as a summer associate, it was the place of my first employment, and I have worked here since. I hope to become partner here.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Probably negotiation of a term sheet in a large international project finance deal representing two export credit agencies. It was very protracted and spun over a year and we thought it would never come to negotiating financing documents and would die at that stage. But then, as a result of a number of tense face-to face meetings with the company, we were able to reach middle-ground. I feel like I contributed a little bit to getting to the middle-ground and am proud of it.
Probably also getting well-deserved child support victory for my pro bono client. Very rewarding.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
To stay on top of all the deals and juggle them all. Clients often feel like their deal is most important and should be most important for you as their counsel. Acknowledging that, while handling everything else, is a bit of a challenge sometimes.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
Well, this is the toughest by far in what we do. I think recognizing that there will be periods of time when work will take priority over everything else is important. Maximizing quality time with your family when you can is the key. And knowing that sometimes one will dominate (probably, for a long period of time) and being able to set your family’s (and your own) expectations. Well, also not taking your anger at work out at your family is the key. Admittedly, I am still learning how to do it.
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?
Yes, my best training in law came from the civil procedure professor from my GW law school, Jonathan Molot. He was a huge inspiration. Very articulate, well-organized, always spot-on in his responses and deep intellectual knowledge—yes, he set a high bar. Also, my secured transactions and bankruptcy professor—she was a huge fan of what she did and enjoyed every moment of it—that was a big influence to me as a second and third year.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I am not really knowledgeable about it since I am not a partner yet.
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 field, I often walk into a conference room for negotiations and it is basically all men. I got used to it. I don’t think I was ever at a disadvantage, at least I never felt that way. My group (and the head of our group Hal Moore) is very supportive and I never felt any sort of disadvantage that I am female. In fact, most of us here are!
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women have been in the legal industry over the past five years?
Hard for me to have a lot to say about it because I have only been doing this for eight years, but probably ability to work remotely and from home is huge. Also, I think appreciation of the fact that a woman has to take care of the family and juggle family and professional career and recognition of work-life balance has increased since I joined the industry.