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They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40 - Melissa Colón-Bosolet of Sidley Austin

July 14, 2021, 8:46 AM

Please describe two of your most substantial, recent wins in practice.
To say that I love being a litigator and crisis manager, is an understatement. This past year was an exceptional one for my practice. My proudest wins are as follows: First, I helped obtain a significant victory for RCBC in a suit brought by Bangladesh Bank which centered around the widely publicized alleged heist of $81 million from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the New York Fed through correspondent accounts to the Philippines. This case is ongoing but the result was phenomenal. Second, I am a core member of the team representing Huawei Technologies against criminal charges launched by the Department of Justice. It is a complex case spanning multiple decades and jurisdictions.

What is the most important lesson you learned as a first-year attorney and how does it inform your practice today?
When I was a first-year associate, I was preparing a senior partner for his pre-trial conference. It was an area I had extensively researched and had been working on one-on-one with another, more senior partner. I was passing notes and ideas to the more senior partner to pass along. She stopped me and said, “Tell him, not me. You are sitting in the room, and if you are sitting in the room, make yourself heard.” That conversation resonates with me to this day. It informs my confidence and reminds me about encouraging others in the same way.

I also learned that young lawyers need to set goals and be proactive to advance their careers. Colleagues and peers want to help, but it isn’t enough to hope that mentors and new clients fall from the sky. They must seek out mentors, cultivate clients and develop their own networks. In the process, they understand more powerfully the value of imparting that wisdom on others. The pleasure and pride in seeing a job well done by a mentee is immeasurable.

How do you define success in your practice?
As the first person in my family to attend college and law school, I consider myself an ambassador at Sidley, especially as its only Latina partner in the firm’s New York office. I stand on the shoulders of many others who lifted, supported and mentored me in my determined trajectory toward partnership. In turn, it is my privilege to support others, lead by example, build trust and to use my own shoulders to lift others up.

What are you most proud of as a lawyer?
The respect of my clients is paramount, as is the respect and collegiality among my teams and peers. I nurture a collaborative approach that has yielded success, structuring my teams in a way that enables everyone - no matter how junior or senior - to develop their own skills and produce the highest level of service to our clients.

Who is your greatest mentor in the law and what have they taught you?
I have been fortunate enough to have many mentors – male and female who have supported and nurtured me. Among the most influential is a group of female litigation partners - partners Yvette Ostolaza, Penny Reid, Yolanda Garcia and Angela Zambrano. It is simply indescribable to have started as a female associate and see these women excel, lead, mentor, win cases and do deals at the highest level. They showed me that anything and everything is possible and I am honored to have them as role models to this day.

Just for fun, tell us your two favorite songs on your summer music playlist.
“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and anything Bad Bunny!