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What was your route to the top? When I moved to DC for my first real job, little did I know that commercial real estate would become my life. A fabulous female mentor showed me that being real estate attorney could incorporate my interests in both business and law, so I went back to law school at night. Working fulltime and taking evening classes teaches you to prioritize and work efficiently. I applied legal concepts I learned at night to real problems the next day and turned the experience into a full-time clerk and later associate position. Next, I focused on climbing the ladder. I was fortunate to have an incredible mentor and supporter from my first year until today. My hard work and his support propelled me to partnership quickly. I have worked diligently in Venable’s Real Estate Practice, focusing largely on commercial real estate finance and securitization. I work devotedly for my clients, including Fannie Mae, and have grown that practice extensively over the last 16 years. While client work was rewarding, I wanted more influence within my organization and quickly identified a hole that needed filing. While Venable technically had a women’s initiative, it was not robust. Co-founding and leading WAVe, an affinity group that helps women fine-tune business development skills, has been a highlight for me.

James Schroeder


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