Adriana Ibarra Vazquez practiced intellectual property law in Mexico for 11 years, until she fell in love with her husband Dan, an American. Giving up her practice to move to the United States, she decided it would be worthwhile to do whatever it took to become a member of the State Bar of Georgia.
“I was a good lawyer in Mexico, and I wanted to continue to be a good lawyer here in the United States,” Adriana reflected. It proved to not be an easy journey.
“When I decided to start law school in the U.S., I had to take the LSAT, and the only option to take the bar exam was by completing a Juris Doctor degree. Now there are new less strict requirements,” she recalled.
Adriana enrolled at Mercer Law School in fall of 2012. During law school, she found she had to change her way of thinking to conform with the U.S. common law system, a big departure from Mexico’s civil legal system.
She was also pregnant during her first year at law school. “My daughter was kicking my belly so hard that my classmate sitting next to me noticed,” she laughed. Although balancing school and family life was difficult, she was very thankful to have her family as a support network.
Through all the challenges, the faculty, the school administrators, other students and alumni provided her with support, resources and opportunities of which she took full advantage. “They gave me the time and attention I needed. They made me feel I could make important contributions, and are fully committed to each student’s success. I was lucky to find Mercer,” Adriana said.
She is especially thankful for the influence of Professor David Hricik, who was her mentor and provided support for many different opportunities she pursued as a student. “He is an inspiration to me, and I only aspire to support others as he helped me.”
“I am very proud to say that I am the first Licensed Foreign Law Consultant in the State of Georgia that is now an active member of the State Bar of Georgia,” she said.
Adriana currently serves as Legal Counsel for the Americas at Barco Inc., an international technology company based in Belgium, where she counsels company units in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.
Her background as an immigrant, and her perspective and knowledge as a licensed Mexican lawyer helps her as an advocate, acting as a liaison between different cultures, explaining the difference in doing business and the legal requirements for each country. She has the added advantages of being fluent in English and Spanish, being trained in civil and common law legal systems and having extended experience in Latin America.
She still looks back at lectures from Mercer Law School to solve work problems. Drafting, counseling and negotiation skills she learned gave her the necessary confidence to start practicing.
She has served as member of the Audit Committee of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) for the last 15 years, as well as a member of the Ethics Committee and a substitute member of the Electoral Committee from 2017-2018.
LACNIC is an international nongovernment organization providing services in 33 Latin American and Caribbean territories. She actively participates in Hispanic associations and Mercer Law alumni activities, valuing the connections she made and advice she received from those who came before her.
When asked what advice she would give a prospective student, Adriana encourages students to, “Travel, learn another language and take summer classes abroad. Apply for writing contests and scholarships and participate in the advocacy programs. Participate in lawyers associations, go to networking events, contact Mercer alumni, talk to your professors and ask them for some advice. The sky is the limit. Think big!”