Senior Corp. Associate, Fullbright & Jaworski L.L.P.
New York City Age: 38
His roots stretch back to Haiti, but Yvan-Claude Pierre was born and raised in New York. A fan of numbers, his choice of a career in corporate law was easy. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Albany, New York, did a few stints at various financial management and auditing firms, then enrolled in the University of Buffalo School of Law, graduating at the top of his class in the Tax Program. Today he is a corporate attorney at Fullbright & Jaworski LLP, one of the top 25 firms in the industry. Among his tasks, he takes companies public, structures financing deals and provides counsel in merger and acquisition cases.
Pierre knows he is in a privileged place. He sees few minority colleagues, particularly African-Americans, as deals are being forged, he says. It’s a situation he hopes to change as he strives to “make partner,” he says. To that end, he spends much of his free time on the fund-raising committee of the Futures in Education Foundation, which helps finance the college education of deserving low-income students in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. “I’m proud of those parents. Some of them earn no more than $18, 000 a year but find ways to match the grants the Foundation awards,” he says. Aware of the pressures and challenges of excelling academically, he is creating a strong support network for his children, as his parents did for him. Many minority youth lack that support and fall short of their educational goals, which make recruiting harder, Pierre says.
He serves on Fullbright & Jaworski’s recruitment and attorney development committees, hoping that minority law school graduates who see him will be encouraged to join the firm. “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody—a parent, a teacher, an Ivy league crony or a few nuns—bent down and helped us pick up our boots,” he says, quoting Thurgood Marshall.
Challenges notwithstanding, Pierre always does his best, even when he is the only minority in the room. Clients demand and deserve no less, he contends.