Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series, Cody McDavis, a 2L at UCLA School of Law, and Daniela Peinado, a 3L at Notre Dame, interviewed San Diego partner Julie Park. In the excerpt below, Julie, who is a member of our Product Liability Group, discusses why she’s built her career at MoFo and shares advice for working parents.
Daniela: Why did you decide to practice law?
Julie: I was a chemist before I became a lawyer and worked at Pfizer for a few years. Being a chemist and doing bench research made me realize that I wanted something different. As a scientist, what I really craved was human interaction and one-on-one conversations. Being a lawyer satisfied that need.
I also really enjoy a career where people have to write and communicate as part of their regular jobs. That was something I didn’t have as a scientist.
Daniela: You started at MoFo as a summer associate. Could you explain why you love MoFo? Why have you stayed at the firm?
Julie: There are a number of things that I really love about MoFo, and I think my perspective about what I love about this job has changed as my career has changed.
One of the things that I found when I first came here was that everyone here is really smart. I thought that it was really cool to walk around and be able to talk to people who were just really intelligent and really on top of things.
I also love how interesting and complex the work is. MoFo lawyers get to work for some of the biggest names and on some of the most complex problems. I’ve had the opportunity to learn everything about a company’s product and recently had the opportunity to work on the Biosimilars Act that was decided by the Supreme Court.
After going through the process of becoming partner, I realized people here really care about each other. To me, that is very important. A lot of senior partners mentored me along the way and helped me with my professional and business development.
I’ve seen it as an associate as well. People here care about your professional development. Whether it’s advising on how to finish a memo or answering a career path question, people here want you to succeed.
Daniela: How do you think associates should begin to develop business?
Julie: I think it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. There are some people who like to go to networking events and love talking to people. There are other people who like to get involved in bar activities or community service. And then there are other people who like to nurture one-on-one relationships.
You’re not going to develop new business and get new clients if you’re not being yourself. Finding that path and discovering what works best for you is really important.
Cody: Let’s talk about work-life balance. You have two young children. How have you balanced being a full-time mother, while achieving building a successful practice?
Julie: In some ways, having children very early in my career was a real benefit. There is more flexibility at that stage of your career to take time off. I also think MoFo has great resources for parents such as the back-up daycare program. Having those resources available was a huge help.
Even though we work a ton and we work really hard, this job is actually quite flexible. In my experience, personal commitments are very important to people here at the firm. Obviously there is a range of how important things are. But if you manage your time, and you are committed and responsive to people, you can make it work.
I live near the office, so I can duck out for my children’s school performances or take care of things at home. That flexibility has helped me a lot in terms of managing work and doing the “mom thing.”
Cody: Do you view the elements of your identity that make you diverse an asset or a source of confidence rather than something that may disadvantage you?
Julie: I think resources such as the MoFo Summit for Women In-House Counsel and the MoFo Diversity Summit helped me recognize what it is about me that’s different from other people. With so many people joining the field, I don’t think there is a typical lawyer anymore.
It is important to recognize what differentiates you from other people and how you can take advantage of your differences to impact your career.