Christina Guerola Sarchio first stepped
into a courtroom at the age of 8 to watch
her father become naturalized as a U.S.
citizen. It was a significant moment—for
her, and her family.
It wasn’t an easy path for the Sarchio
family from their native Spain to America.
Her grandfather was a political prisoner in
Spain under Francisco Franco. Once he got
out, his daughter, Sarchio’s mother, found
that there were few opportunities after the
Civil War—particularly for those opposed to
Franco. So she and her husband fled first
to England, then to the United States.
“We believed in the American dream,”
says Sarchio, who was born in New York
City in 1969 and grew up in a household
where justice was a common topic of
conversation around the dinner table. “In
the U.S., if you work hard and study hard,
you will be rewarded.”
Today, she’s living that dream as
partner in the Washington, D.C., office
of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, where
she concentrates her practice on general
business litigation, antitrust and white-collar
criminal defense matters for Fortune 500
companies and other clients.
She started out as a prosecutor in
Manhattan, where she thrived in a
melting pot of lawyers, judges and law
enforcement officers. She even prosecuted
the neighborhood bully from her
childhood, who went from picking on kids
to becoming a lookout-guy for burglars.
“That gave me a feeling of doing something
good for my community,” she says.
After a move to D.C., Sarchio saw the
opportunity to move into the private sector.
“I decided to give it a try,” she says. “The
ability to work on complex cases while
having good resources at your disposal
to build a strong case greatly appealed
to me; and my having had extensive trial
THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF A FRANCISCO FRANCO POLITICAL PRISONER, CHRISTINA GUEROLA SARCHIO
GREW UP TO PROSECUTE HER FORMER NEIGHBORHOOD BULLY BY EILEEN SMITH DALLABRIDA
HOMAGE TO SARCHIO
experience greatly appealed to law firms.”
Sarchio, who had no connections to the
law until she graduated law school, forged
her own path. That experience inspired
a commitment to advocate for others
coming up through the ranks, particularly
minority lawyers. Sarchio’s mission
statement resulted in her former roles as
president of the Hispanic Bar Association
of Washington, D.C., and vice president for
external affairs and general counsel for the
Hispanic National Bar Association.
Her work with the HNBA brought her in
contact with Greg Kenney, who manages
domestic litigation for ExxonMobil.
“We wanted to meet more Hispanic
lawyers that we could retain,” he recalls.
“Her leadership in helping us to meet that
goal was what first caught my eye.”
Kenney gave Sarchio a small case, in
which a motorist sued the company over
car repairs at an Exxon station with a
service center. She got the case dismissed.
Over the next 10 years, he sent larger
and more complex cases her way, including
sophisticated antitrust work.
“She is an incredibly talented lawyer,
and we were impressed with her from the
beginning,” he says. “She is efficient and
innovative. She also is very determined,
which never hurts.”
Sarchio differentiates herself by
practicing proactive and reactive law. She
is a strategic partner with her clients on
both legal and business advice.
She represented the National Basketball
Players Association, managing the union’s
plan to terminate its executive director.
She also put together a game plan for an
interim director, ensuring players’ concerns
would be met.
“It isn’t enough to resolve an immediate
problem,” she says. “The goal is to prevent
problems in the future.”
When the union began its selection
process to hire a new executive
director, Sarchio worked closely with
the committee. In the end, D.C. trial
lawyer Michele Roberts landed the job,
making her the first woman to run a
major U.S. professional sports union.
Roberts’ appointment was a point of
pride for Sarchio. “Michele was someone
I recommended,” Sarchio says. “I was
very pleased that the best qualified
Sarchio also does pro bono work
for the Women’s National Basketball
Association—“They don’t have the money
the men have,” she says—and has taken on
several discrimination suits involving the
rights of immigrants.
The sought-after speaker on such topics
as women as rainmakers, class action
strategies and managing a career your way
is happy to lend a hand to help her peers
rise, even though, she notes, others weren’t
always so welcoming.
“There will be roadblocks along the way,
people who don’t want to see you succeed,
but I tell you it’s worth it,” she says.
“Twenty years ago, I never imagined being
where I am today.”