Lawyer Marissa Bañez’s Second Act: Writing for children

A Boomer who enjoys connecting with young children.

Life, they say, begins at 40. Add 25 more years and for lawyer Marissa Bañez, her life as a children’s book author has only just begun.

A litigator with almost 40 years’ experience, Marissa has written a children’s book “Hope and Fortune,” which will be issued by her Black Rose Writing publisher on February 2, 2023.  While many see lawyers as non-stop talkers, the job actually involves copious amounts of writing which may have given her the ample skills of patience, discipline, and lots of grammar exercises.

“Indeed, my favorite thing about lawyering is the writing.  And, it’s a way for this almost 65-year-old Boomer to enjoy speaking to and connecting with young children,” she said when reached by The FilAm.  “Despite my age, I feel I still have a little bit more fuel in the tank, and I want to keep going…just in a different direction.”

But writing about children and 12 fairies and a butterfly? That’s Marissa’s avant-garde imagination running wild.   In her maiden book, she makes sure to include affirmations of courage, resilience and empowerment as the lawyer in her takes over.

Born to a big family of 10 children in Baguio City, Marissa immigrated to the United States with her family in 1968.  Following her graduation from Belmont High School in Los Angeles, she attended and graduated from Princeton University in 1980 with a BA in politics and a teaching certificate.  She subsequently attended the University of California, Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, graduating in 1983.

She is currently Of Counsel in the New York office of the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP.  Her experience with litigation involves pharmaceutical products, medical devices, asbestos- and tobacco-related exposure, coal-related black lung cases and liability in defense of Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies. She has appeared before state, federal and administrative courts throughout the country.  She also serves as Appellate Counsel in residential mortgage foreclosure litigations. “I have a winning track record,” she said.

The story of a lost girl and the dozen multicultural fairies who put her on the right track.

A strong diversity advocate, she has served as a mentor for minority students with the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity.  She was previously Special Counsel and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the New York Asian Women’s Center, an organization that helps battered Asian women and children.

While “Hope and Fortune” may be her first published book, this is not Marissa’s first time writing for children.

“When my daughter was young,” she recalled, “I wrote many children’s stories for her and her friends just for the heck of it…because why not?  Both they and I had great fun.”

As her daughter grew up, she packed up those stories and re-focused on her legal career. Then, the pandemic lockdown happened.  Work slowed to a trickle and boredom ensued.

“I decided to dust off and modernize my stories, and sent them to publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts.  I had nothing to lose except the endless Netflix screen time I would otherwise be spending,” she added.

Late in life

Marissa is married to a Cuban-American businessman. Joaquin Boves fled to the U.S. when Fidel Castro took over the country in 1959.  “We met quite late in life – he was 49 and I was almost 40 – in a bookstore.  Neither of us had ever married before and we got married within the year of our meeting.”

As they were both no-longer-young, they did not expect that they would have a child.  But one night, Marissa had a wonderful, extremely vivid dream and she remembers every detail to this day.

Marissa wrote many children’s stories for her daughter Angelica when she was growing up.

“I found myself in a beautiful, very colorful floral garden, feeling peaceful and happy.  Suddenly, singing, laughing, and dancing angels and cherubim surrounded and enveloped me into their midst.  Then, a dark-haired cherub kissed me on the lips.  I immediately woke up and, still very much feeling the cherub’s kiss on my lips, told my husband that we were going to have a baby,” she said.

The following year in 1999, her daughter Angelica was born.  She is now a grad school student at CUNY, where she is pursuing a professional studies master’s degree in Industrial and Commercial Psychology, having graduated with a double-major in English and Psychology from the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

Marissa, second child before the youngest, expressly designs children’s stories to entertain, to teach and to share her Filipino culture.

In “Hope and Fortune,” for instance, sheattempts to show that the first fairy encountered by the girl protagonist, Esperanza, is the Fortune Fairy of Hope, a character inspired by her late Filipina mother.

“She’s wearing a green terno top, which of course is the quintessential Filipina dress. I also wanted to represent the aboriginal Filipino groups by giving her a red-and-black skirt reminiscent of the Igorot or Ifugao style of clothing.  I want to introduce at least a small part of our culture to readers,” she said.

She sees her legal career at Greenberg Traurig “sunsetting,” freeing up time for her to write more books.

She said, “The firm – and the world – needs to make room for the very bright and certainly more technologically advanced younger attorneys.  I don’t begrudge that. Still, I hope to stay at GT for as long as they will have me.”

Like the farm worker’s wife who became an artist at a late age, Marissa pictures herself as the “Glam-ma Moses” of kids’ books. – Cristina DC Pastor

© The FilAm 2022

One Comment

  1. Gambol wrote:

    Enjoyed the post.

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