Elissa Port

Finding Flexibility in Corporate Law


fter earning her J.D., Elissa Port ’05 spent four years specializing in private equity and debt financing for Ropes and Gray in New York. In 2009, she accepted an offer to relocate to Chicago and become a fellow at Loyola University School of Law. Port then sought to shift into more general corporate work, which her 2011 move to McDermott Will & Emery allowed her to do. After a turn as in-house attorney and unit chief compliance officer at the Bank of Montreal, she returned to McDermott as a partner in July. Port’s practice concentrates on mergers, acquisitions and corporate and securities transactions.

“Corporate law is a more varied practice than is often assumed,” she said. “Lots of folks graduate thinking that if you go corporate, you’ve got one of two choices: either work with a corporate firm or in-house. You can vary from the norm.”

Port continues to serve as an adjunct professor at Loyola University School of Law, a role she finds immensely rewarding.

“It’s incredibly challenging to talk to folks who are excited to start their careers,” she said. “We cover a lot of practical aspects of law related to securities work and deal work — things that they will really be able to use in practice.”

But the education is reciprocal. “I learn a lot from my students,” she said. “They ask questions and make points that give fresh perspective to issues I deal with frequently. Teaching forces me to stay up to date. It makes you think very differently about problems and issues — more granularly in some respects, more broadly in others.”

Port said she’s realized throughout the past decade of career growth and change that it’s hard to know what will be around the next corner. She advises: “Don’t be afraid to try something new, to learn about a new area. Take advantage of opportunities as they come.”

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