Maria Esmeralda Moreno


  • Program Year
  • 2011-12
  • Country of Current Residence
  • Paraguay
  • City/Town of Current Residence
  • Asuncion
  • Current Position
  • Lawyer
  • Organization
  • Moreno Ruffinelli & Asociados
  • Profession(s)
  • Lawyer

  • Sector(s)
  • Law
  • Language(s)
  • Spanish (mother tongue), English, French, Portuguese
  • Interest(s) / Expertise
  • conservation, environmental policy, law
Scholar website URL Scholar email address
Impact Statement

Maria is a lawyer and a professor committed to contributing to a more sustainable and equitable world through her contributions from the legal standpoint. She is passionate about the law, the environment, education, languages, drama and travelling.


Since her return to Paraguay, Maria’s main focus has been to establish herself both as a practicing lawyer and a leader within her firm and community. She has gained many more responsibilities in the firm, both in the complexity of the cases she has been handling, and in a managerial capacity. Maria has continued her pro bono legal assistance to the environmental NGO she had previously worked with and has added another NGO that provides housing to the most marginalized members of the community. She has also been providing legal counsel to the Financial Agency for Development of Paraguay, the only second-tier entity of the country, whose objective is to fund credits for housing and education to all sectors of society to increase financial inclusion. Maria has also been teaching in local universities, giving and attending conferences and seminars on diverse areas of law of special interest to her.

The first Sauvé Scholar from Paraguay, Maria Esmeralda earned her law degree at the Catholic University “Nuestra Señora de la Asunción,” where she graduated Valedictorian. After graduation, she took a Graduate Course in Private Law at the University of Salamanca (Spain). She later obtained an LL.M. in Law, Science and Technology from Stanford Law School in California. She is an Associate at a leading Paraguayan law firm, where she advises local and international clients on diverse areas of the law. Maria’s practice is focused mainly on pro bono legal advisory to local and international NGOs dedicated to the eradication of poverty and the protection of the environment..

Maria has work closely with Guyra Paraguay, the most important Paraguayan NGO dedicated to the defense and protection of biological diversity. “One of the most welcome side-effects of this work was not only that it awakened my desire to have a more active participation in the defense of the environment and preservation of species, but also introduced me to the problem surrounding the Guarani Aquifer, perhaps the issue for my generation.”

She is also Assistant Law Professor at several local universities and has authored several articles in prestigious local and international law reviews. Her Assignment of Contracts earned the first prize in the Law Review Competition for Leading Essay by a student. Her paper on affirmative action and the lack of women Supreme Court justices had a significant impact on the appointment of the first Paraguayan woman as a Justice of the Supreme Court. Maria also translated from French to Spanish a book on arbitration written by one of the greatest authorities on the matter, Emmanuel Gaillard.

As a Fellow

Maria drafted a legal framework, backed by a research paper, for the sustainable management of the Guarani Aquifer System. This Aquifer, shared by four countries, including Paraguay, is one of the greatest sources of freshwater on earth and studies estimate that it could supply the world for 200 years.