University of Houston Law Center law student and recent recipient of the Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP Diversity Scholarship, Jessie Manzewitsch Pulero, spoke with Attorney at Law Magazine about her aspirations and plans for the future.
AALM: What type of practice do you envision for yourself?
JMP: At this point, I am still exploring the law and all the different practices. I don’t know if, in a few years, I will be an oil & gas lawyer, construction lawyer, bankruptcy lawyer, or any other kind of lawyer. But I do know that I would like to be in a practice that will allow me to grow, branch out, and try new things. I believe Bradley is that kind of firm. For this reason, I am eager to begin my journey there.
AALM: Do you have any “heroes” you’ve either tried to emulate or are inspired by?
JMP: Generally, influential, ambitious female role-models like Justice O’Connor and Ginsburg inspire me. I believe they paved the way for women like me to be able to practice and aspire to positions as partners, judges.
More specifically, and perhaps a little cliché, I admire my mom. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized that some people considered that women were not fit for specific careers because of traditional gender roles. My mom always did what she wanted in a good sense. When I was a toddler, she attended journalism college. Later, when we moved to the United States, she enlisted in an ESL program to learn English. I remember helping my mom with her homework. Recently she enrolled in an online program at a University in Jerusalem to learn Hebrew. She has one crazy idea after another, and she follows through, making her dreams into a reality.
She always worked as a public speaker. But also, she managed to be an amazing mom. She loves people and is never afraid to help anyone. If one day, my children admire me half as much as my siblings and I admire her, I will know I did something right.
AALM: How do you feel society is doing as far as our approach to diversity?
JMP: I feel like, during my lifetime, there has been a change of focus from “we will not discriminate against diverse individuals” toward a genuine appreciation of the value of diversity. I have seen how the socioeconomic gap, at least to some degree, was closed through programs that provide opportunities to unprivileged demographics. I feel like that is essential. But further, I feel like companies have begun to see the real value in the diversity of their employees. As a society, we are moving from tolerating to appreciating diversity.
AALM: Tell us a little about your experience while interning at Nicholson & Cano law firm.
JMP: My experience at Nicholson & Cano was terrific. I worked within the tax law department of the firm. I consider that time pivotal in my legal development. It was my first experience with the practice of law, and I loved every minute of it. Of course, it was in large part since I was working with amazing people. At the head of the department was a woman I admire immensely, Felicitas Arguello. She is a brilliant lady and truly cared about everyone working under her. Her right hand, Laura Giordano, was imposing herself, intelligent yet fun and easygoing. They invested a lot of time in training me, teaching me the law, the practice of law, and even professionalism in the office. Additionally, I had the opportunity to sharpen my research and writing skills. I am very grateful for the time I worked in Nicholson & Cano.
AALM: What are you most looking forward to with your upcoming Bradley clerkship?
JMP: I’ve been counting the days until the Bradley summer program begins. I am so excited that they selected me to participate. I am looking forward to being immersed in legal practice. Most importantly, I’m looking forward to learning from and interacting with the fantastic people I briefly met at Bradley. I know that this will be a significant growth opportunity for me, and I only hope I can contribute to the firm’s goals.
AALM: What has been the greatest challenge thus far in your pursuit of a law career?
JMP: Law school is generally challenging. However, the biggest challenge has been how to deal with the pressure constructively. For some time, at the beginning of my 1L year, I could not shake the feeling that I had “snuck into law school” and that at some point, I would be found out. I admire my classmates and professors; I think they are all brilliant people. It took a while for me to feel like I was in the right place, and I had what it takes to succeed. Luckily, I have an amazing husband that always reassured me and pushed me forward.
AALM: How do you relax? Do you have hobbies?
JMP: I have two hobbies. I love to paint with watercolors. I also enjoy cooking and trying new foods. My husband and I enjoy discovering new places around town. One of the things we like the most about Houston is that one day we can have Greek food, the next day we can have Indian, then Salvadorian, then Thai, then Mexican. In Houston, you can travel the world in a month, or at least your taste buds can.