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How This Argentina-Born Lawyer Built Her Firm From Scratch in a Niche Market

Growing up, Gabriela Noemí Smith saw a lot of injustice. 

Being born in Argentina, then moving to Bolivia as a teenager, she hated the unfairness she witnessed - specifically in business and towards women. 

So at 13, she decided she wanted to be a lawyer so she could help make things right. 

In 2001, she moved to the United States for college, then attended law school. 

After graduating in the top three of her class, she was met with wide open doors from a number of firms. She took a job in big law and ended up there for four years before she and her husband moved to Texas in 2012. 

Once Gabby passed the Texas bar, she had a few firms interested in her, but nothing felt like the right fit. 

She started researching and stumbled upon some statistics about the international commerce between Argentina and the United States. She discovered there was $3 billion of human resource in one particular industry: the offshoring of digital services. 

So Gabby decided to start her own firm within that niche, with the vision of serving the Latino Hispanic business community - which is the fastest growing group in the country. 

She landed her first client at an event in Argentina where she spoke to business owners about doing business in the United States. His company was in the middle of negotiating with a very well-known US-based company. He asked if she would review a 100-page contract for him. 


And that’s how Gabby’s firm got started. 

Her family gave the firm $5,000. She got a couple subscriptions, an email address, and a virtual office.

With a background in litigation, Gabby had to study as she went to understand the transactional side of the law. She was literally reading up on warranties as she made that first PowerPoint she presented in Argentina. 

Because sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and learn as you go. 

In Gabby’s words, “I don’t think it’s fake it ‘til you make it. I think it’s just - go make it.” 


I’ve seen Gabby absolutely crush it this past year in her business, so I had to ask her: 

How has being a powerhouse business owner, a mom, and a wife been playing out in your life?

Here was her response: 

The other day, a friend told her, “You CAN have it all, but not at the same time.” 

Especially as women, we have a lot on our plate. Unless your husband is a stay-at-home husband, a lot of things still land on you. You’re the one talking to the doctor. You’re the one making sure there’s milk in the fridge. 


So stop beating yourself up about where you think you “should” be in your career. 

Gabby has friends making way more money with way bigger firms. There have been times when she felt like she just wasn’t measuring up to her peers. 

But when she told this to her husband, he said, “What are you talking about? They’ve had full-time careers since 2008. You’ve only been doing part-time work.” It was true. As a mom who was determined to be present with her kids, she had given up a lot so she could be home with them. 

But now, with things exploding at her firm in the best way, and her husband transitioning out of the medical field, Gabby feels like this is her time. 

Her message to other female lawyers is the same message her friend gave her: 


You can do it all, just not at the same time. 

So if you’re spending a lot of time with your kids, cherish it. Don’t think, “Oh man, I should be reviewing a contract right now.”

Because when they ask people what they regret at the end of their lives, they don’t say having a small law firm or less money in their bank account. 

They say, “Not spending time with my family.”


It’s okay if your world looks different from other people’s worlds. 

Early on in our careers, we’re fed the idea of what a lawyer looks like: a 75-year old white man who goes to work everyday in a physical office. 


But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

A law firm looks like Gabby in her house with her dog sleeping on the couch. It looks like trying to minimize the noise and the interruptions as much as possible, while still being there for her family. That’s what a law firm looks like. 

This conversation with Gabby was so empowering. 


If you take one thing away from this post, I hope it’s this: 

You have the dream inside of your soul, and you are absolutely capable of making it happen. 

You just have to go out there, be bold, and do the damn thing. 


Where to find Gabby: 


Linked In: Gabriela N. Smith

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