Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Juliana G. Lamardo of the Law Offices of Juliana G. Lamardo P.A. in the 2020 Women in Law special issue to discuss her career and her aspirations.
AALM: When did you decide to become a lawyer and why?
Lamardo: I decided to become an attorney when I was in my undergraduate studies at FIU, where I got my degree in business administration. My mother is an attorney in Brazil and so was her father. I think it runs in our blood. I watched my mother as I grew up and I knew being an attorney was something special.
Being an immigrant myself drove my passion to help other immigrants obtain the American dream. This country brought me endless opportunities and I am thankful every day that I am able to help others with their own immigration cases. I briefly practiced other areas of law, and the passion just was not there.
AALM: What do you find rewarding about being an attorney? What do you find challenging about your practice?
Lamardo: What I find most rewarding is seeing a client that has struggled with their case finally be able to hold up an American flag and say, “I am a Citizen.”
The biggest challenge in being an immigration attorney is that there are notaries (notarios) that defraud immigrants by portraying to be attorneys. In Latin cultures, notarios are attorneys, but in the United States they are not authorized to practice law. Some of these notarios can put a client’s case in jeopardy.
I try to overcome those challenges by educating the public about the differences between a licensed attorney and a notario and share with them my experiences with challenging immigration cases.
AALM: Did you have any mentors or professors who helped you develop your career? What is the best lesson they taught you?
Lamardo: While in law school, I had the very best mentors. Our school was very small and the professors knew the students by our names. I believe this helped shape what kind of attorney I am today. I am very personable with my clients. It is the one-on-one attention that I had in school that taught me the importance of being one-on-one with my clients.
Now while I am in practice, I have several mentors that I can reach out to get level-headed. The best lesson I have learned is to pay it forward. Everyone in life needs a helping hand at one point in life. Do good to others and good will come to you. I have and continue to help other attorneys who are just starting off on their own. I not only give them case advice but also on how to run their own firms.
AALM: How supportive are fellow women practitioners? How do you personally try to help women following in your career path?
Lamardo: I think now more than ever, women are sticking together. I am part of several women-only groups that help each other out; not only professionally but also personally. I help other women by making myself available to discuss cases, career paths and strategies in running a successful law firm. Law school teaches us how to read and review laws; it teaches us how to research; it teaches us how to handle court. What it doesn’t teach us is how to run a law firm. With my background in business, I have been able to succeed, and I think it’s important to help others succeed as well.
AALM: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn.
Lamardo: I am originally from Brazil. I came to the United States when I was 7 years old. I did not speak English or Spanish when I arrived. I had to take ESOL (English as a second Language) classes and was also in a bilingual elementary school where I learned Spanish. Within a very short period of time, I learned the two languages and by the time I got to high school, I had fully embraced the American culture, being a cheerleader and class president in my senior year of high school.
AALM: How do you balance your home life and work life?
Lamardo: My family is amazing. I cannot be who I am today without them. Every single person in my family helps me with some aspect of my business. I get to see my mom and sisters often because they help me out in some way, and it makes it fun to have them around (and stressful too sometimes). We also make it a point to get together often so we don’t get carried away with our busy lives and don’t lose sight of the importance of each other in our lives. It’s easy to get carried away with the day-to-day.
My husband is extremely supportive and is also a great cook, which makes life very easy on those extremely busy days, but most importantly he supports my vision and my goals. I also have the support of my closest friends, who help me on the daily operations of the office, marketing, and my clients.
AALM: What compelled you to start your own practice?
Lamardo: What compelled me the most in opening my own firm was my own independence. I wanted to independently be able to take on the cases that I see fit for me and my vision. There are too many immigration law firms that do not listen to the client’s concerns and what is necessary for them. I believe that quality work is more substantive than quantity. I had a vision for the type of service I wanted to give my clients, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to make that vision a reality every day in my practice.
I also needed more balance in my life. I was consumed in too much work and was not leaving enough time for my family, my health and my hobbies. I’ve learned along the way that balance is important to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
AALM: What accomplishment are you most proud of achieving?
Lamardo: I have grown up so much as a person and professional since opening my firm in 2016. I am proud of the leap I took in leaving a very comfortable job with full benefits to become a solo practitioner. I am also proud that I have been able to take on cases that other attorneys are afraid to take because of their complexities. I have had some very remarkable wins along the way. One of the greatest achievements for my profession is when a seasoned attorney sends me a case that they believe they cannot handle. That is by far the best achievement and compliment I can receive.
AALM: What traits do you think make an attorney exceptional?
Lamardo: The difference between a good attorney and an outstanding one is caring about the client and making sure they understand what their case is about. The worst kind of client to have is one who does not understand where they stand. I find the utmost importance is to educate the client about their case. Communicating is not enough; an outstanding attorney will take the time to put their mind at easy during the difficult times and make complicated things easy for the client to understand.