By Genevieve Antono • March 10, 2017•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Nonprofits and the Public Interest, Politics and Government, Other Career Issues, Law School, •Pre-Law, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Internships and Clerkships
Today’s interview is with Monica Parks, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at the New York City Bar Association. Monica graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in 2014, with a B.A. in English Language and Literature.
Hi Monica! I’ve seen your name in New York City Bar Association emails for the last two years, so I was really excited to finally meet you in-person at the “Launching Your Career” seminar series! How and when did you decide to pursue a role in Diversity and Inclusion?
Monica: I started working at the City Bar as an assistant in the Executive Director’s office. Gabrielle, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, noticed my potential and tapped me to help out with some of the projects. When my predecessor in the Coordinator role decided to leave the City Bar to pursue graduate study, I was offered the position.
You’ve worked at the City Bar ever since you graduated from university in 2014. Did law school ever cross your mind?
Monica: I had wanted to be a lawyer since I joined the debate team in middle school and it was the sole focus of my academic career from that point until I graduated college. When I started working at the City Bar, though, I saw another side of the profession—namely, the very long hours that don’t align with my sleep schedule and the nightly social events, and decided that it wasn’t a profession that aligns with my personality. I’m very introverted (not shy!) and I think that, from my perspective, a legal career is better suited to someone that gains energy from frequent socializing. I’ve learned that I am more suited to a “behind the scenes” role.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of the City Bar’s “Launching Your Career” seminar series for pre-law undergraduates and recent graduates. Are there any other Student Pipeline Programs that you’d like to highlight to our pre-law readers?
Monica: Our flagship program for undergraduates is the LSAT/Law School Prep Series, a three-day seminar series covering all aspects of the law school application process through three panels on admissions, financing your education, and the 1L experience. Prior to the panels, students can sample LSAT classes from leading test-prep companies like Princeton Review and Kaplan. The series culminates with a networking fair attended by over 65 law schools from across the country, many of which offer application fee waivers at their tables; at the end of the fair, we raffle off $20,000 worth of LSAT prep books and classes. The students pay a very small registration fee, but the payoff is massive.
This three-day seminar series sounds incredible!
You’re constantly organizing events for, and meeting, pre-law students in New York City. In your experience, what traits or characteristics, if any, do successful pre-law students share?
Monica: Networking. A lot of pre-law students—my college-age self included—think that if you keep your head down, work hard, and get good grades you will succeed. This is not true. People need to like you for you to get ahead in any profession, but especially in a client-facing field.
What’s one thing that people don’t expect about you?
Monica: I’m a former musician. Starting in sixth grade, I would leave regular school early to attend music school, where I trained in classical voice performance. In college, I performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC with the UMD Concert Choir and the National Symphony Orchestra under the conduction of Helmuth Rilling. It was a great experience and I highly recommend that everyone learn at least a little bit about music, whether it’s classical voice or electric guitar.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with Ms. JD Pre-Law, Monica!