Member Monday: Noeli Serna

Corporate Counsel // Elkay Manufacturing Company

Please provide a description of your practice.
I am in-house corporate counsel at Elkay Manufacturing Company, where I work alongside my legal team members and the business on any and every need the company may need from a legal perspective. No one day is alike, and my workday may include reviewing contracts, working on large corporate transactions, advising our business team members in Mexico and/or researching new laws and regulations.

Why are you a member of the WBAI?
I am a member of the WBAI because I truly believe in the power of collaboration, especially among women. In the U.S., women make up only about 37% of U.S. attorneys and Latina women make up an even smaller, under 2% of U.S. attorneys. In my career, I have been fortunate to learn from many distinguished female attorneys that have been willing to share their honest perspectives on the legal profession and their paths to success. Their experiences and wisdom have been invaluable to me, and I want to make sure and continue this dialogue as I delve deeper into my career. The WBAI creates an amazing space that helps facilitate these conversations among female attorneys.

What do you think is the best way to empower women in law?
I think we can best empower women in law by opening more doors to leadership roles. Because relationships are instrumental in achieving leadership positions, it’s important that women be included in conversations regarding paths to leadership and that employers and organization leaders take action to ensure that qualified women are being equally and fairly considered for advancement.

What are you most looking forward to in the following year, personally/professionally?
I am getting married this December, so on a personal level, I’m most looking forward to starting this next chapter of my life. Professionally, I’m excited to be entering my second year of in-house practice. The learning curve has certainly been steep as I transitioned from big-law finance work to now being an in-house generalist, but I’m proud of how much I have learned in this past year and am excited to continue to take on more responsibilities and build on my knowledge.

Tell us something interesting about you.
I am a first-generation Mexican American and the first person in my family to graduate from college and law school. I am extremely proud of my Mexican roots and Spanish-speaking abilities. My Spanish-speaking abilities have been hugely instrumental during my legal career and all throughout my life.

My family also owns a small fast food restaurant called Andy’s Grille in South Holland, IL (ironically, it’s American fast food, not Mexican). The restaurant helped forge my work ethic since the age of 5 and holds a very important place in my history and heart!