Editors’ Note: As part of our ongoing Faces of MoFo series, Jocelyn Greer, an associate in the firm’s Securities Litigation and Investigation + White Collar Defense Practices, discusses her career path and what led her to call MoFo home.
When did you first realize that you wanted to practice law?
I don’t have any people in my family who are lawyers but I did learn at a pretty young age what a lawyer was and that it was something that I wanted to do, I suppose partially from watching TV. But I also knew that I love healthy argument, debate, and advocating for myself. And so it was explained to me by my parents what a lawyer does and once I figured that out, I understood what I wanted to be when I was in middle school. Then, once I was in high school, we had a mock trial team that I found out about where you would pretend to litigate cases, question mock witnesses on the stand, practice opening statements and closing arguments, and argue objections. Once I found out about that, I tried out for the team and loved it. I really loved being on my feet, arguing and getting to litigate in court. That confirmed for me that I wanted to go law school after college.
Could you tell us a little bit more about what brought you to MoFo?
I really liked the cases that I was working on at the firm that I started at, dealing with big security fraud litigations. But because it was a larger firm, it was hard for me, at a pretty junior level, to get good substantive experiences such as doing depositions, going to court, and interfacing with clients. What appealed to me about MoFo was that it was a big firm that did that same type of really innovative and interesting work but had a smaller firm feel. The teams were smaller and I felt like there was more room for collaboration and more room to get really substantive experience at a junior level. I also really liked the fact that there was—especially in the litigation group—lots of women in leadership. Often being the only woman or only woman of color in the room, I realized that kind of representation was really important. I’ve enjoyed that transition, working with my teams at MoFo, and the mentorship that I’ve gotten from some of the partners in my group.
Do you have any mentors or role models who helped you on your path, whether in school or at the firm?
So many, but some that particularly come to mind are Jamie Levitt and Grant Esposito. They’re both so great in helping me focus on the types of work that I want to be doing and making sure I get good, diverse experiences. They always keep me in mind for cases that come up that they think would be good new experiences for me.
With Jamie, in particular, I can think of a time this summer, for example, where I was doing a lot of depositions and it was my first time doing depositions on my own. I was really nervous about it and she took the time out of her busy schedule to not only read through my deposition outlines—for a case that she wasn’t working on—but also to meet with me and talk through strategy ahead of the deposition. She actually came to the depositions, backed me up, and supported me. Having that support has been really fundamental in my career.
What led you to your current practice?
The vision that I had of being a lawyer when I decided I wanted to become one was writing briefs, researching issues, and getting up in court to argue and question witnesses. Once I learned what litigators do, that really aligned with all the things that I wanted to do when I decided to be a lawyer. That’s what I really enjoyed doing day to day and that’s what led me to litigation.
Was there any advice that you received throughout your career or personal life that has really stuck with you?
The best advice I received was to be authentic and not to lose your authenticity even going through law school and starting out practicing. I think what makes people really great lawyers is when they hold onto the things that make them who they are. You don’t have to sound exactly like the partner that you’re working with. You can have your own voice that’s based on and influenced by your own unique experiences. I think that it is really important to develop your own style. That’s invaluable.
Is there any pro bono work that you are particularly been proud to have been a part of?
The pro bono matter I’m very proud of working on recently is still ongoing. I’m working with Jim Beha and Nishi Tavernier to represent a Latino man who was incarnated and suffered from severe mental illness. Due to an incident with one of the corrections officers while he was incarcerated, he was placed in solitary confinement for 30 days. This obviously really exacerbated his mental condition, so, in response, MoFo is suing the facility, other government officials, and the corrections officers who were responsible for putting him in those conditions. That case is still pending but we really believe in it and we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to recover from all the horrible things that he experienced. We also hope that it will put other officers and state actors on notice that they shouldn’t be treating people with mental illness who are in their prisons so unfairly.
Have you had the opportunity to get involved in affinity groups or outside legal organizations? Could you tell us more about how that experience has helped you to grow and/or make new connections?
I’m the associate chair of the New York Women of Color affinity group, which we just started at the beginning of this year. I started the group with Haima Marlier, a partner at the firm, and we’re really excited about the group’s launch. One of our mission statements is to provide networking and mentorship amongst different women of color across the New York office, which we look forward to getting the opportunity to do. One of our first group events was a session in January where we talked about our excitement about the inauguration of Kamala Harris. We can’t wait to see where the group goes from here.
Outside of MoFo, I also recently joined the associate board of a nonprofit called Legal Services New York City, which provides legal services to people who are underrepresented and cannot afford them.
If you weren’t practicing law, what else do you think you’d be doing?
I studied English in college so I always thought if I didn’t practice law that I would like to be a writer. One of my favorite parts of being a litigator is writing briefs to tell a story and editing people’s work. So I think those skills would translate well into being some kind of fiction writer.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic I loved being around friends, trying new restaurants, meeting up for dinners, and things like that. That’s a little harder to do these days. Now I’ve really been finding solace in going to the park and running and cooking new recipes to try different meals for myself lately.
Learn more about MoFo’s commitment to the advancement of diversity and inclusion here.