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Alumni Profile: Jess Merritt

Jess Merritt, a 2012 graduate, has had a career that has taken her across continents. She now works as a paralegal with an international company, where each day she utilizes the language, professional, and cross-cultural skills that she honed during her time with the Spanish M.A. program at SLU.

Jess Merritt (center)

 

Q&A

What have you been doing since receiving your M.A. from SLU?
Upon graduation from SLU, I landed an entry-level position with Abengoa, a Spanish multinational technology company specializing in renewable energy, based in Seville. I worked as an assistant in the legal department where I quickly grew and was promoted. Abengoa provided tuition assistance so I could continue my education, and in 2015, I completed a paralegal degree, with an emphasis in business law. From there, I continued to take on more legal work in both Spanish and English. After the business unit closed its doors at the end of 2015, I joined SSM Health at their System Office in Creve Coeur, MO. I worked two years at SSM Health and then transitioned to my current job with Guerbet in January 2018.
What is the title and description of your current position?
Guerbet, headquartered in Paris, France, is a global leader in diagnostic and interventional imaging. I currently support the Corporate Counsel for North America and Latin America. My title is Senior Paralegal – Americas.
 
Highlights of my career include: learning all about Colombia's judicial system and supporting corporate counsel to manage a lawsuit in Colombia, traveling to Panama City and Colón in April 2019 to implement a compliance program in Panama, and traveling to Bariloche, Argentina in February 2020 to present on legal topics at Guerbet’s annual Latin American Distributors Conference.
 
Since graduate school, I also got married, moved to a farm, and had two babies!
 
In what ways did the SLU M.A. prepare you for what you do today?
I learned so much and met the most wonderful professors and colleagues, but to put it simply: the intensity, especially with regards to the reading and writing, in grad school prepared me to be able to work in a fast-paced, bilingual legal department. I’ll also add that I learned how to give a class which is a huge help when having to give a presentation in the professional world!
What are some highlights of your time at SLU?
  • Teaching
  • Presenting at two graduate symposia (SLU and Indiana University)
  • Spending the summer at SLU-Madrid
 
What are your career or academic interests?
Since graduate school, I have complemented my Spanish studies with legal training. The rigorous coursework of graduate school prepared me for legal coursework, as well as working in the professional world. My experiences with Latin American and Spanish culture have also prepared me to work in an international company. In the future, I plan to pursue a Master's of Jurisprudence in Health Law.
 
What are your job responsibilities?
Support Guerbet’s Corporate Counsel – Americas:
 
  • Manage all contracts for the U.S. and LatAm in both English and Spanish;
  • Coordinate with local counsel and country managers for all LatAm countries to prepare annual minutes, powers of attorney, proxies, bylaws, stock certificates, other corporate organizational documents, and local, regulatory documents.
  • Manage corporate books, records, and registrations for all Guerbet entities in the US and LatAm;
  • Perform research and analysis on legal topics;
  • Collaborate with finance teams to complete annual financial audits in US and LatAm;
  • Manage relationship with U.S. registered agent (complete filings, manage cost, etc.).
  • Support the litigation process in the U.S. and LatAm
  • Liaise with legal team in Paris to address global, legal issues 
 
What does a typical day look like?
  • Review contracts
  • Collaborate with counsel to discuss contract risks, negotiation strategies, etc.
  • Monitor internal, legal requests for information, document review, etc.
  • Advise on risk mitigation
  • Conference calls with internal and external colleagues on a variety of subjects: contracts, commercial strategy, corporate compliance, etc.
What do you consider the most essential skills for your career?
  • Speaking Spanish
  • Being detailed oriented
  • Knowing how to conduct research
  • Having awareness of cultural differences and how that impacts business