I went in for a handshake, but instead Deborah A. Bondzie went in for a hug. I was a little taken back because the person that I met in that Starbucks was not the person I had prepared to interview. Her website was so professional and well laid out, it made her seem like a serious person. She offered to buy me something to eat. I politely declined. She asked me questions about myself like what my hobbies and interests were, if I had any siblings. It truly felt like two people just talking.
Bondzie is an African American lawyer. Her family immigrated to the United States from Haiti. They lived in Brooklyn, New York, where Bondzie was then born. She has a younger brother and two sisters. She attended Tufts University for undergrad where she got a bachelor’s degree in child development and community health. She got her master’s in 2007 in urban and environmental policy and planning in child development. Bondzie has been a certified lawyer for seven years and has been running her own law firm as well.
Bondzie’s family was a big part of her deciding to become a lawyer. “Growing up, I would have family members who needed help with different immigration documents, they would ask me for their assistance,'' she said, but she wasn’t certified then. Bondzie also conducted parenting classes where she was frequently asked for help with legal documents, “and I'd have to remind them that I wasn’t a lawyer, but in so doing that sort of inspired me to pursue a law degree, because I realized that I could be helpful…”
She went to Suffolk University Law school. During that time the country was experiencing an economic crash, banks were underwater and people were struggling to pay off their mortgages, Bondzie tells me. Because of this, she wanted to learn a little bit of everything in law school. That way she would be prepared to help anyone who needed assistance.
“My strategy was to learn a little bit of everything. So that once I graduated from law school, I would be able to hit the ground running, so to speak, and be able to work in different law fields, legal fields, if that's necessary.”
She also has her own practice. But starting it wasn’t something she always knew she wanted. “I worked at other companies. So I worked at Oracle, I've worked at American tower and I worked for a nonprofit organization for medical legal partnership.”
Her work experience at other firms and her colleagues were her motivations in starting her own firm. “My colleagues who had started their own practice inspired me to start my own. And so I took a leap of faith.”
Bondzie’s parents are from Haiti, making her an African American lawyer. She explained, “I know people have their prejudices, but I don’t approach my cases necessarily thinking about other people's prejudices.” Instead, she says she approaches her cases, “by familiarizing myself with what's going on, doing the legal research necessary to prepare my arguments, conferencing the matter with all parties involved and then properly defending my clients.”
She talks about how she keeps herself motivated and how to deal with tough decisions in the day to day. It’s about persisting on equally good and bad days. “And so will doubt and fear creep in to your mind after making the decision? Yes. But then you want to remind yourself why you made the decision you made, and stay inspired. I think it's really more about allowing your inspiration and motivation to outweigh any doubts or fears that may try to sneak into you.”