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El Mundo Boston 2018.

NATALIA MERCADO VIOLAND

Attorney, Ropes & Gray

Age: 29

Heritage: Bolivian 

Throughout her life, Natalia has learned to navigate white-dominated spaces and advocate for more Latino representation. 

Natalia was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia, where she graduated from the American Cooperative School.  She left La Paz and moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to attend college. At the University of Virginia, Natalia served as the Class of 2012 Vice-President and a committee member on the Undergraduate Admissions and the Presidential Inauguration Committees. In addition she was a board member of Madison House, a non-profit that connects over 3,000 students with volunteer opportunities. Natalia was also an interpreter at the University of Virginia Hospital, a mentor for UVA's Peer Mentoring Program, and was a member of the IMP Society. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with a degree in Politics and Economics. Through her engagements at UVA, Natalia was often the only Latinx in a room, but used her positions of leadership to engage Latinx voices.  

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Natalia joined the Teach For America Massachusetts corps and subsequently enrolled in Boston University to pursue an M.Ed (Masters in Education).  She taught third and fourth grade math and science to English language learners at Letourneau Elementary School in Fall River for three years. She also served on the school's Instructional Leadership Team. She was awarded Teach for America's Sue Lehman Excellence in Teaching award for the state of Massachusetts. During her time as a teacher, Natalia advocated for dual-language services for her students and led a professional development session on race and equity in teaching. 

In 2015, Natalia left the classroom for law school at Boston University. During her time at BU Law, Natalia represented indigent defendants, including juveniles, through Boston University's Criminal Law Clinic.  Natalia also interned in the Non-Profit Organizations and Public Charities Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office where she worked on various enforcement and litigation matters, including excessive executive compensation and solicitation fraud. Natalia served as a note editor for the Boston University International Law Journal, Private Sector Mentor for the Career Development Office, and as co-president for the Latin American Law Student Association (LALSA).  As LALSA co-president, Natalia led initiatives to connect Latinx law students with opportunities in the legal field to increase representation of Latinx lawyers in Boston.

Now out of law school, Natalia works as an associate at Ropes & Gray's Litigation and Enforcement practice group.  She focuses her practice on anti-corruption and international risk. However, she keeps a robust pro-bono practice representing unaccompanied immigrant minors, separated families, and victims of violent crimes seeking legal status in the US. This year, Natalia organized her firm's first Hispanic Heritage Month dinner with associates and partners to foster fellowship and introduce first year associates to offer informal mentorship.