In the latest edition of our 5 in 5 series, we spotlight Nadège Assalé. In addition to serving on The Pro Bono Project’s Board of Directors as Vice Chair, Nadège is this year’s Justice For All Ball Chair. Nadège is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Loyola University College of Law. She concentrates her practice at Bradley, Murchison, Kelly & Shea in the areas of Oil & Gas Law and Energy Law, offshore and onshore, including title examination, the acquisition and disposition of Oil and Gas properties, and general commercial transactions. Nadège’s professional accomplishments match her personal achievements.
What inspired you to come to the United States and practice law?
Curiosity, on both accounts. And loving parents willing to satisfy that curiosity at their own expenses. I am originally from Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, where French is the official language. I had always been fascinated by English, as a language, however. So, when given the opportunity after high school, I chose to come to the United States to learn the language and pursue further studies. None of my family members had ever been that far; yet my parents agreed to let me go. Brave parents! Later on, I got fascinated by the work of the in-house counsel with whom I was working at Shell after I graduated. I wanted to know, for instance, what was so “special” about them such that an agreement I had drafted could not be shared with outside counterparts, let alone, signed by my manager, until and unless it had had the “blessing” of the Legal Department. So, I decided to go to law school. I did not know what I was getting myself into since, except for the lawyers at Shell, I did not know any lawyer, but it sounded interesting and challenging enough.
You are a busy woman! You have a thriving practice in the areas of Oil & Gas Law and Energy Law, are part of the Institute of Energy Law’s Inaugural Leadership Class, Chair of the Justice For All Ball, and Vice Chair of The Pro Bono Project. How do you juggle it all?
I don’t! The “village” juggles it all and one plays his or her part. It sounds perhaps cliché, but it really does take a village to get things done. For me, that village is composed of colleagues, fellow board members and fellows, friends, family, mentors, et cetera. In the end, however, it is still challenging at times, but I find solace in doing the best I can, where I can, when I can, and believing that the rest will sort itself out.
What led you to support The Pro Bono Project?
Duty. Coming from the country and continent I come from, the needs of the less fortunate are never far from my mind. It was, therefore, necessary for me to get associated with a local legal organization where I could volunteer my services as a lawyer. The Pro Bono Project was a natural fit, and I could not thank Linton Carney [The Project’s now retired, Chief Legal Officer] and Chris Coty [The Project’s past Staff Attorney] enough for mentoring me at the beginning and, really, pulling me ever closer to the organization.
What can attendees expect at this year’s Justice For All Ball?
A delightful and enchanting evening of fun, drinks, food, music, and camaraderie, all for a good cause: that of supporting the invaluable work of The Pro Bono Project of New Orleans in providing access to justice to those who, otherwise, could not afford to exercise that right. We are particularly excited to host this event at Mardi Gras World’s Grand Oaks Mansion. The new venue offers a beautiful and climate-controlled space that puts attendees in the heart of Louisiana – with oak trees and a starlit sky. Patron Party guests will be treated to a splendid view of the Mississippi River.
Do you have a favorite memory from past Balls?
The live auction “battle” of 3 individual guests that raised over $10,000 for one auction item was pretty spectacular. The dance moves and genuine happiness of certain guests, as well, are forever inked in my memory!