Interview of Fausto Sanchez, winner, On The Rise category.
What drew you to a career in law? I have wanted to be a lawyer as long as I can remember. More specifically, I have always wanted to be a trial lawyer. The more I learned about the career, the more I realized it was what I was meant to do. The pressures and stresses that come with the job can certainly be taxing, but they can also be thrilling and exhilarating. Nothing beats the feeling of executing an effective cross-examination or sticking a devastating closing argument. Once I got a taste of that, I was hooked.
Have you set a specific goal that you want to achieve in the next year? I have. I plan to become more involved and take on leadership roles in legal organizations like the Hispanic National Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
What has been your proudest career moment and your biggest hurdle? My biggest career hurdle was transitioning from working as a prosecutor and practicing exclusively in the world of criminal law to working on complex, international commercial litigation cases. My proudest career moment was successfully litigating and resolving one of those complex, international commercial litigation cases on behalf of 30 different clients across the U.S.
Where do you fit on a 1-10 work-life balance scale with 10 being nirvana? Please explain. Right now, I am probably at a 4. I certainly intend to improve my work-life balance in the future, but I also understand that I am at a point in my career that I cannot afford to be outworked by my competition. If I don’t put the sweat in now, then when?
What is the top quality that you’ve used to succeed in the profession? Following through on what I say I am going to do. Clients need to trust that you are going to do the work they entrusted you to do. Colleagues and coworkers need to know that they can depend on you to do your part to help the team. And your opponent needs to believe you when you make representations about your case.
Who is your favorite mentor and why? I have several, but Michael Diaz has been a mentor of mine for many, many years. He has always given me sage advice regarding the legal profession, much of which isn’t written in a book or taught in any law school course.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? When I started law school, Michael Diaz told me to begin my career as a prosecutor, regardless of the type of law I’d eventually choose to practice. He told me that the skills you acquire in such a short period of time as a prosecutor are impossible to replicate at any private law firm. He couldn’t have been more correct, and adhering to that advice was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What trends are you observing in the profession that you’re excited about? I am excited to see how globalization effects the legal profession. The world is shrinking, and law firms like ours continue to expand their presence into many jurisdictions across the globe. This presents vast opportunities for lawyers to experience new cultures and to service clients in new markets. I have been fortunate enough to have some of those experience thus far in my career, and I look forward to continuing to do so in the future.
What is the greatest challenge you see for the legal profession? Data security. Our profession is relying more and more on technology. And, while “digitizing” the profession certainly has its upsides, it also carries significant risks. Scores of prominent U.S. companies have become victims of cyber attacks. As guardians of sensitive, proprietary and personal information, the legal profession cannot ignore its vulnerability to cyber attacks, and we must increase our efforts to protect and secure client information.
If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be … Maybe an architect? Honestly, I have no idea. I have only ever wanted to be a lawyer, and falling short of that goal was never an option.