Blank Rome's Ana Cecilia Ibarra van Oostenrijk Speaks with LexLatin
Ana Cecilia Ibarra-van Oostenrijk, who recently joined Blank Rome LLP as Mexican Counsel in our firm's Houston office, was interviewed by LexLatin on the highlights of her professional career and personal achievements. Her full interview, translated in English, is available below.
Ana Cecilia Ibarra-van Oostenrijk took a new step in her professional career of almost 30 years. The Mexican attorney, based in Houston for two decades, joined Blank Rome's corporate, mergers and acquisitions and securities group as Mexican Counsel. She specializes in international transactions, cross-border disputes, litigation, and commercial arbitrations and internal and government investigations, with a focus in the energy industry. In the interview below, she discusses her professional career.
Mention one case that has shaped your career and explain why.
In the early 2000s, I worked on a series of matters at a previous firm, representing energy companies that were being investigated by the Department of Justice for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The combination of my civil law training, language skills, and experience with business operations in foreign jurisdictions made me the right fit for these matters. These international cases ultimately shaped what my career has been since then, and later, even motivated me to accept an internal compliance role. With nearly eight years of transactional and compliance experience in the energy services industry, I am well equipped to understand what matters most to my clients today.
If you weren't a lawyer, what other profession or trade would you have chosen?
Since I was a child, I wanted to be a chef. I enjoy the process of creating a dish, and I take great joy in serving food that is both pleasing to the eye and that I know will nourish my loved ones. Also, gastronomy for me is a great way to learn about other cultures and learn more about the past of our own culture. Cooking is a very creative outlet for me, one that can also be used to spend quality (fun) time with loved ones. A great experience for all!
What movie or book related to law would you recommend?
Well, I like the old ones. So if I had to choose, I would choose All the President's Men because of how far the journalists went in search of the truth.
What do you like and dislike the most about the legal profession?
At the risk of coming across as cliché, what I dislike most about the legal profession, which could probably be said for any other competitive profession, is that it can turn into a race to the top, at the expense of everything else that is equally rewarding in one’s life. What I like most about my profession is that the law is about what people believe; what some people believe is right and others believe is wrong. Personally, I find it amazing and inspiring that nations were made up of people with different views on almost everything, but who were willing to commit to shared principles that would guide and lead them as one nation.
How can a lawyer develop his own brand?
Developing and most importantly maintaining your personal brand requires a lot of skills. Here I would highlight:
- Expertise – Become the best in your field and share your knowledge. Don't be afraid to self-promote your talents.
- Dependability – If you say you’re going to show up, do it. If you agree to a deadline, keep it. Be reliable!
- Build and expand your network – Network as much as possible. Stay in touch with old classmates and friends, and get to know your neighbors and the parents of your children's classmates. At professional events, try to make at least three good introductions before you leave and follow up afterward. Find a mentor and ask him or her to introduce you to the key people in your organization.
Do you have a strategy to improve your productivity?
I try to fill my daily bucket with the big rocks first and then the smaller ones. What I mean by this is to focus every day on the most important personal and work tasks you want to accomplish that day (the big rocks) and then allocate the remaining time to achieve the smaller rocks. Practicing some form of self-care to keep ourselves healthy and positive also improves our productivity.