Associate, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
New York City Age: 29
Danitra Oliver views the law as a vehicle for change. She recognized it as such when she was a child with aspirations of becoming an attorney. A graduate of Fordham University School of Law, she is now an attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a leading international law firm. Oliver is the first African-American in Fordham Law School’s history to win the Annual I. Maurice Moot Court Competition. She and her teammates won the 2002 competition for the best team and best brief. It is an achievement of which she is most proud, one that likely laid the groundwork for her current role and responsibilities.
At Weil, Gotshal, Oliver is involved in complex commercial litigation, breach of contract and product liability issues. In carrying out these high-profile assignments, she is influenced by her mentor Richard Rothman, a partner in the firm whom she describes as an “excellent” litigator. Not only is she comfortable in the courtroom, she says, but she also “loves” the experience. It helps her overcome her nervousness and shyness, she notes.
Inspired and supported by her late father, Oliver became the first member of her family to receive both a bachelor’s degree—she graduated magna cum laude from St. John’s University with a B.Sc. in communication arts—and a law degree, a feat she accomplished while attending night school. “My father passed away two months after I graduated from law school. I am honoring him through my accomplishments,” she says. In 2002, Oliver received a Minority Bar Fellowship from the New York City Bar Association. She took her expertise abroad a year later when, as a Joseph R. Crowley scholar, she participated in her law school’s mission to Bolivia to explore the issue of corporate social responsibility in the context of international human rights.
In her spare time Oliver performs spoken-word poetry at such notable venues as the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City. Sometime in the future, she says, she hopes to combine her love for journalism and the law.