Embracing change: Montse Ferrer

Starting out as a Capital Markets attorney and transitioning into the Litigation department three years later, associate* Montse Ferrer has travelled an adventurous, nomadic path across four international offices. She credits a positive attitude and the willingness to change as catalysts for creating opportunity.

I joined the New York office as a summer clerk in 2008 and started practicing in 2010, shortly after the peak of the global financial crisis. I was interested in arbitration and litigation, but the only position available at the time was in capital markets. While it felt like a setback, it turned out to be just the opposite:
it allowed me to discover the firm as a vessel for my professional adventure.

Give it 100 percent

When I look back at the last six years, I think of the advice a colleague (and now
good friend) gave me during my first week at work: “Whatever you do, even if you don’t like it, give it 100 percent.” He promised me that it would pay off – and I think it has.

I spent my first three years in the capital markets departments of the New York and Singapore offices and discovered what has kept me going through the years: a firm culture that is open-minded, diverse, challenging – and one that encourages thinking outside the box.

The best example of this mindset is when the litigation department in Hong Kong, supported by the capital markets team in Singapore, allowed me to transition into litigation. They believed that many of my corporate skills were transferable, and those that were not could be learned on the job.

Find your space

It has taken me some time to realize that while we become lawyers at our jobs, we also grow as individuals. And perhaps that is why it has been so important for me to be true to myself.

To me, that has meant finding happiness at work, from enjoying the long hours spent drafting a 150-page investment arbitration submission, to participating in office-wide door decorating contests; from pulling an all-nighter at the printers with colleagues who have a good sense of humor, to helping my pro bono client get asylum status after years of persecution.

Find your space and keep it safe. And when you are comfortable with who you are at the firm, then you are able to build relationships with clients and colleagues and help build your practice.

The importance of mentors

But all of this would not be possible without one essential ingredient: mentors. If you find someone who inspires you and whom you respect, someone senior who knows how the firm works, get to know them. Soak up everything you can. If they’re willing to give you the gift of their own experiences and expertise, take it.

My mentor has provided advice on every professional step I’ve taken these past six years – he is my rock. Because when you think about it, it’s the people who make a firm the special place that it is.

*Since publication, Montse has become a Clifford Chance alumna. She is currently a senior legal advisor at TRIAL International, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights.