Laura Swihart stands out for her breadth of experience in commercial real estate finance. As a partner working in the area of global finance at Dechert LLP, she has spearheaded the expansion of the firm’s commercial mortgage-backed securities capabilities since joining the firm in 2010.

Acting as seller’s counsel and special securitization counsel for a federal institution, Swihart was instrumental in multiple securitizations totaling more than $140 billion. She led Dechert’s expanding relationship with the institution, resulting in several new commercial real estate-related matters, including the establishment of an investment fund for holding securitization certificates.

Swihart has nearly tripled her book of business over the past two years by bringing in new work from major banks and financial institutions.

Asked about her greatest professional accomplishment, Swihart says it was making equity partner. “I have had some fabulous female and male equity partner mentors, all of whom I highly respected. Reaching their level was my greatest accomplishment. There are very few female equity partners in my practice area and it meant a lot to join their ranks.”

“I have always challenged myself to try things outside my comfort zone,” Swihart continues. “I have pushed past my fears and insecurities on numerous occasions during my career. I learned from my mentors that almost everyone has doubts about being ready for more responsibility and leadership roles, but the only way to overcome these doubts is to volunteer for more and do your best. You will soon realize that you are more capable than you think; the more you step up and try, the better you get.”

Swihart is a mentor and member of the women’s group at the firm. She also co-leads her industry trade association’s professional development program for women. She offers this advice to her mentees: “Work hard, try to learn something from every experience, even the bad ones, and everyone you meet, especially those who have different experiences than you. Don’t be afraid to try new things and move to the next step. No one starts out as a leader. It takes hard work, courage and a lot of practice.”