Perseverance is key for Venezuelan-born solo-attorney Andrea Piontkovski, who uprooted her life and career to the United States at the age of 25.
Piontkovski was born in Caracas Venezuela, and at the age of 10, she lived with her lawyer-aunt, who became her initial inspiration.
“I loved the way that she dressed. It was professional and nice, and as a kid, I told myself I wanted a job that allows me to dress up like her,” she said.
In her adolescents, Piontkovski participated in many educational, social, and community events. At the age of 15, she was elected as president of a committee promoting the rights of children and adolescents in her town. She produced and hosted a radio program by the age of 16, but those who hosted and facilitated the resources to those projects began to show exploitation and political-ideological indoctrination.
“I stepped out for a little bit, focused on just school, then I decided I was going to law school in Venezuela. When I began law school, I realized that there were many issues, legal issues, and constitutional issues that we were facing, but many people didn't see because they didn't have the legal knowledge. That is where I started feeling that deep love and passion for what I was studying,” she said.
Piontkovski began her legal education at the highest-ranking institution of her home country Universidad Central de Venezuela (Central University of Venezuela). During Law School, she earned an internship to work at De Sola, Pate & Brown, an international Law Firm where she acquired extensive exposure to American and Corporate law.
After graduating in 2011, Piontkovski began working as an attorney for the city of Chacao in matters related to Land Use and Construction Zoning. A year following graduation, she took a leap of faith and decided to move her entire life and career into the United States.
“I had decided to be a lawyer regardless of what country I live in. I was bilingual because I took an English course, but I was bad at it.”
She began with learning basic English to be admitted to the University of San Diego School of Law, where she eventually graduated in 2016, earning a Masters in Comparative Law.
“That was the hardest challenge that I ever had professionally and even personally because I had to start from zero. I self-taught myself in many areas of the law in a different language,” she said.
Piontkovski had to overcome another hurdle thrown at prospective lawyers in the United States, the California Bar Exam, which she passed after her sixth attempt. After gaining her credentials, she was referred to immigration law due to her bilingual capabilities, but to no avail.
“I had interviews, and guess what, none of those doors open for me,” she said.
After a discussion with a colleague, she used the rejection as an opportunity to open a firm, Andrea Piontkovski Law in 2020 amid a global pandemic. As a solo attorney, she helps clients face a range of immigration issues and creates strategies to help clients find legal pathways.
“Immigration is very deep. Each time I get a client consultation, I learn something. You always have to learn more, so whatever I studied at school or throughout my preparation for the license it's not enough. My education has to be an ongoing thing,” she said.
She is also the official Legal Advisor of the group “Hispanas in San Diego” (Hispanic Women in San Diego) where she offers pro bono work to its coordinators/founders and empowers and motivates other Latin Women.
“I'm not where I want to be. There is still a lot to do, but I'm happy. I feel content with what I have accomplished. In the view of some people, it might not be that much, but if I can change the life of one person, that means the world to me,” she said.