Attorney Spotlight – Carlos Pastrana
Who inspires you and why?
As is the case with most people from Puerto Rico, my biggest source of inspiration is the legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente. Clemente was not only a great player, but while alive, was also a symbol of pride for all Puerto Ricans. He pushed back against being stereotyped by an American media that had no idea how to relate to someone from his country and did not allow himself to be pigeonholed as a dumb athlete. As most people know, he died tragically in a humanitarian mission to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.
I try to live by his quote that “[a]ny time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, you are wasting your time on Earth.”
As someone of Hispanic/Latin heritage, how does your culture influence your work?
I am fully bilingual and became an attorney in Puerto Rico, so it would be impossible for my language and my culture not to seep into my work somehow.
My culture tends to be more verbose and expressive; Puerto Ricans are not discouraged from showing emotion, which is a bit of a tonal shift from the Midwest. I think I am better able to “break the ice” with clients, opposing counsel, and even judges, because I don’t really see many work-related interactions as awkward, and I generally like to connect with people.
On the other hand, it’s hard not to be moved by the good and the bad inherent in my profession, so I make a conscious effort to not get too high up or brought too much down by whatever happens at the office or the courthouse.
What advice would you give young Hispanic/Latinx professionals considering a career (lawyer, paralegal, operational, etc.) in the legal industry?
Do not be intimidated. Because I had always worked with U.S. clients when I was in Puerto Rico, I thought I was above to intimidation when I relocated here from Puerto Rico ten years ago. But I quickly saw that there is a learning curve and that it is easy to feel a bit of imposter’s syndrome.
Believe in yourself. You bring a ton of very valuable life experience to whatever firm or client hires you.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It’s funny. Because I did not grow up here and am not an “American of Hispanic heritage,” I am not even sure I fall in the target audience! However, when I think about Hispanic Heritage Month, I celebrate my children and their future contributions to this country, and the fact that, through the sacrifices my wife and I made in leaving our country and our family behind, we gave them the opportunity to further enrich this country with their talents and experiences.