Throughout Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we'll be talking to the leaders of NP's Asian and Middle Eastern American Resource Group about their experiences in law, their lives and interests outside of work, and what all of us can do to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace. Today, we're talking to resource group partner chair Sonia Nayak.
How long have you been at NP? What has most surprised you about the path of your career?
A little over 16 years, if you can believe it! As a first-year associate, I never imagined that I would be working on transactions all over the United States. Being part of a leading national practice and the opportunity to work with really smart and innovative people across Nixon’s offices has been a privilege.
How would you describe the outlook for junior Asian American attorneys now, compared to what it was when you started your career?
Meaningful progress does not happen overnight. In the past 20 years, the number of Asian Americans entering the legal profession has increased exponentially. Asian Americans have become a visible presence in all areas of business. I believe the opportunity for Asian American attorneys to succeed and lead in various sectors of the law will continue to increase with time.
What is the first fun thing you’ll do post-COVID, that you haven’t been doing?
International travel, it’s a passion of mine. Growing up, my family would travel to India regularly. The flight from LA to Bombay (now Mumbai) was really long and always had a layover. My parents would plan a short stay in the various “layover” areas (Singapore, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, etc.,) and we would explore new places and different cultures. It’s from these experiences that I caught the travel bug. I’ve had the privilege of visiting 5 of the 7 continents, but I still need to hit Australia and Antarctica!
What is one piece of advice you would give to a rising Asian American attorney?
Culturally we are taught to keep our head down and work hard. While hard work will always be required, I would encourage rising Asian American attorneys to be more vocal and make contributions to their workplace that go beyond simply “doing the work.” Be mindful of the fact that diversity is needed to maintain a competitive edge in business, and by virtue of your background, you may be able to offer a different perspective and insight into any number of topics that may provide your firm, company, or organization with that competitive edge.