By Genevieve Antono • May 20, 2017•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Other Career Issues, Law School, Pre-Law, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, •Internships and Clerkships
Today’s Ms. JD Pre-Law interview is with Christina Marie Nguyen. Christina serves as Co-Chair of the Career Placement Committee at the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY). She previously served as a Co-Chair of the Student Outreach Committee at AABANY, Social Media Coordinator for the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY), and Assistant Editor for the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA)’s NYLitigator Journal. Christina graduated with her JD from St. John’s University School of Law and was recently admitted to the NY bar. She was also featured on St. John's Law 2016 commencement article, at this link.
Welcome, Christina! As a bit of context for our readers, we met when you were Co-Chair of AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee and I’ve seen you at multiple AABANY events, doing an absolutely fabulous job coordinating dozens of student volunteers. In fact, this committee’s volunteer program was recognized as AABANY’s program of the year—so congratulations! How did you first get involved with AABANY, and when did you become Co-Chair of their Student Outreach Committee?
Christina: Thank you so much! The Student Outreach Committee is very proud of our accomplishment and very thankful for our volunteers for taking the time out of their studies to help at the many AABANY events.
I first got involved with AABANY as a student intern during my 1L Spring semester. St. John’s emphasized the need and benefits of networking and I thought that becoming an AABANY intern would allow me to do so. As an intern I had the opportunity to volunteer at multiple events and meet many AABANY members who included attorneys, judges, and fellow law students. I continued to be an intern during the summer after my 1L year and after that I continued to volunteer my time in other capacities.
I became Co-Chair of the Student Outreach Committee in April 2016. An AABANY executive member reached out to me to become one of the co-chairs of the Student Outreach Committee. I was excited for the opportunity. I thought it was a great way for me to give back what I received while I was a law student.
I love your story—it really shows how opportunities arise when people get involved and invest in a community. Do you have any advice for our pre-law readers about how they can start getting involved in their local bar associations, even as undergraduates?
Christina: I did not start getting involved in local bar associations as an undergraduate, but you are a great example to pre-law readers on how pre-law students can start getting involved. My advice would include: joining pre-law societies within their respective undergraduate institutions, attend events targeted to prospective law students, volunteer at local bar associations events that seek help, and intern in any legal capacity.
Backtracking a little, where did you grow up, and how did you first develop an interest in the legal profession?
Christina: Queens has always been my home and still is. I grew up in Queens, New York. My entire school education has been in Queens, from elementary school until law school. I developed an interest in the legal profession when I attended Townsend Harris High School. I had an interest in the humanities and religiously watched legal and criminal shows. As an undergraduate student at St. John’s University I studied legal studies and accepted multiple legal internships to determine if law school was a path I was planning to take. Through my multiple internships, I had the opportunity to work with amazing attorneys, who taught me how lawyers think, write, and analyze. They have all become great mentors and with such an amazing start to my legal career, I knew I wanted to become a lawyer.
You’ve done a wide range of internships—for example, you’ve interned for Judge Dora Irizarry at the U.S. District Court, EDNY, and the in-house legal departments of an investment bank and a Scottish whisky and spirits company. Can you pick one of these examples and tell us more about your role and responsibilities?
Christina: Working at Edrington Americas during my last semester of law school allowed me to use all the skills I’ve gained through my internships during my law school career. I was able to use the research skills I gained with Judge Dora Irizzary at Edrington Americas to research the number of alcohol and beverage laws throughout the United States. My responsibilities included determining the legal implications the company, advertisers, marketers, and sellers of the products would have in each state. I was also able to use the analytical skills I gained at Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. at Edrington Americas to analyze the intricacies of the company and how the legal department communicates and is utilized by each department. This internship allowed me to use and develop both my legal and business mindsets and skills.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Christina: As a recent graduate of St. John’s University School of Law and a recently admitted attorney to the NY bar, I wish to become a leading attorney in the practice of securities law. Being a leading attorney within the securities practice could be at a firm, investment firm, private equity fund, or hedge fund. As I am in the beginning of my legal career, I look forward to all the upcoming opportunities.
It’s always a pleasure, Christina! See you at the next AABANY event!