Since finding her place at Foley & Lardner LLP in Madison more than 20 years ago, Antonina “Toni” Prestigiacomo has been leading by example.
It took some time to find that right fit, however. She first worked for a big law firm in Chicago, which was “everything you hear about,” she said, including working on weekends and until two in the morning.
“It just wasn’t for me,” she said. “I jumped at the opportunity to leave.”
She next worked in-house at a Japanese financial institution in Chicago, a job that provided predictability, but ultimately bored her, Prestigiacomo said.
She wrote to Foley & Lardner to see if they had any openings in the Madison office.
“I’m lucky they did,” said Prestigiacomo, a partner and member of the firm’s finance and financial institutions, and real estate practice groups. “It’s been a wonderful fit. I’m very challenged, but it’s more balanced.”
Prestigiacomo works with both borrowers and lenders on a variety of financial transactions. She also leads the firm’s Women’s Network, which deals with recruitment and retention of female attorneys, flex partnership arrangements, compensation and inclusion issues.
“I know it sounds cliché, but becoming a mother really changed my perspective,” Prestigiacomo said. “I feel like it’s my responsibility to help other women.
“It’s my pleasure to work with younger attorneys and be a resource to them as they try to close a multimillion dollar deal while balancing family life.”
Katherine Rist, an attorney at Foley who Prestigiacomo mentored, said she leads by example.
“Toni works extremely hard and demonstrates to all of us younger women attorneys that while it may not be easy, there is, in fact, time in the day to be an excellent attorney and an excellent mom,” she said, adding that Prestigiacomo is known to start her workday at 4 a.m. so she can leave in time to watch her son’s after school activities.
Prestigiacomo credits Foley & Lardner’s leaders and their commitment to attracting women to the firm, promoting them and working to retain them.
“Not every firm is like that,” she said.
Another aspect of why Foley has been a great fit, she said, is the firm encourages its partners to volunteer their time, something Prestigiacomo embraces. She is active in several organizations including Edgewood Campus School, Catholic Charities and Rubin for Kids, a local organization dedicated to supporting and mentoring at-risk youth.
“They encourage us to support organizations we believe in,” she said, “which is wonderful.”