Danielle Comanducci • Associate, Corporate • New York
Danielle Comanducci acts in an outside general counsel capacity and advises domestic and international clients on a multitude of corporate and financial matters, including mergers and acquisition, contracts, loan transactions, internal governance issues, and not for profit tax exemption, as well as a variety of regulatory compliance and administrative law matters.
Who is a woman in history that inspired you? The great Madame Marie Curie for her brilliant mind and her enormous contributions to the male-dominated scientific world. Marie Curie’s determination allowed her to break through countless glass ceilings during her lifetime, including becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win a Nobel Prize twice!
Did you ever take a career risk? If so, why? I started my journey into the legal profession while I was living and attending law school in France. Being Franco-American, I grew up in New York where I had been enrolled in the French educational system and then moved to France at the age of fifteen. After graduating law school in France with a degree in private and corporate law in 2006, like many twenty-year-olds, I had it all figured out… or at least I thought I did. Fast forward a little, French law degree in hand, I decided to pack my suitcases, move back to America and start it all over. I obtained my juris doctorate in 2010, passed the bar, and have been practicing law in New York ever since. Why risk starting all over? Well, truth be told, I felt that the common law system allowed judges and lawyers to take an active role in shaping the law, perhaps more than the civil law system I was used to. While uprooting myself out of my comfort zone, going back for another three years of law school and taking on a substantial amount of law school debt was not an easy decision, I have no regrets and encourage all young professionals to not be afraid to take a risk to get where they want to be.
What career advice would you give your younger self? Relax. It’s okay that you don’t have all the answers. Yes, your head is spinning with all the information you absorbed during three years of law school and months of preparing for the bar exam, but there is still a lot to learn… and you will. So take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, pick up that treatise, ask a colleague and you will figure it out. No one starts out knowing everything, and knowing what you don’t know is as important as knowing what you do know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, reach out for support and take on projects in new fields. In the end, it will help you turn into the lawyer you were meant to be.
Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they encourage you in your career? I was very fortunate to have several mentors early on in my career (and still today!). Michael Friedman, Esq., SGR Counsel, who spent countless hours over the last 10 years brainstorming with me on how to approach various issues and teaching me how to think outside the box, a skill that has served me immensely in my career. Sasha Bau, Esq., SGR Partner, who has taught me more than I could describe, has always encouraged me and involved me in all types of client matters and gave me the opportunity early in my career to take on responsibilities and develop relationships with clients.
Do you believe a woman can have both a meaningful professional career and a fulfilling personal life? I think that it is possible to “have it all”, but it is not always easy. Achieving a work-life balance is a constant challenge, especially during these unprecedented times. Trying to juggle an energetic two-year-old child at home while maintaining an active law practice has required me to get creative – whether having my daughter as a frequent guest on intra-office Zoom calls, working late into the night once she is asleep, or letting go of my “no screen time” ideals so I can get work done during the day- these are challenges that are shared by countless working parents. Generally, in order to strike a balance, I think the key is finding the employment culture, whether it is in-house, in private practice or public service, that understands and is sensitive to these challenges. Thankfully, I see a growing trend in law firms having more flexibility not only for working mothers, but working parents, whether it is allowing parents to work from home a few days a week or to work more flexible hours. One thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us is that not only is flexibility possible, but it is necessary to ensure that employees can thrive and enjoy success in both their professional and personal lives.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Hiking, taking photos, watching old movies and, most importantly, spending time with my daughter, who is the sweetest, coolest and funniest person I know.