Q&A with Brittany Chung
Brittany Chung is an associate in Porter Wright's Corporate Department, concentrating her practice on banking and finance as well as real estate.
Describe a pivotal moment that influenced your career path.
The most pivotal moment that influenced my career path was when I decided to take the LSAT instead of the MCAT. At the end of my first year at Case Western Reserve University, the Office of Multicultural Affairs sent out an email asking if anyone wanted to attend a leadership conference. I said yes and later that summer I attended a workshop for the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network. After that, I became a moderator, facilitating student group conversations around difficult social issues on campus. This was precursor for my pivotal moment, which led me on a path to advocate for diverse students on campus.
From this experience, I went on to work with campus administrators to implement the plans students created to address their needs. From my advocacy work, I slowly realized that medical school was not my calling. It was law school. I love advocating for others and my drive to achieve a desired outcome helped me navigate law school and, hopefully, will help me to have a successful career at Porter Wright.
What advice would you give to women just starting out at a law firm? What are some important first steps they can take to lay the groundwork for a successful career.
Be true to yourself. It sounds very cliché, but as a woman, particularly a woman of color, I felt external and internal pressures to conform to societal norms on the “corporate woman.” Trying to be someone who you are not will most likely lead to being unmotivated and in a constant state of high stress. While being yourself makes you feel comfortable in your position so you can focus on your work and helps you to bring a unique touch to your practice group and how you network with clients/potential clients. Some important steps for establishing a successful career (in any field) are:
- dedication – be committed to your work product and to your personal/professional development;
- internal networking – get to know your practice group and other attorneys in the firm;
- curiosity – go outside of your comfort zone and learn about other practice areas or sub-practice areas within your group; and
- patience (be gentle with yourself) – when you’re just starting at a law firm, you will often feel like you know nothing and are probably messing something up every step of the way, but remember, everything takes time and partners did not become great overnight, it took them years of developing their skillset to be amazing practitioners.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship has been the most impactful experience in my professional and personal development. I have mentors in legal and non-legal fields who helped me along my journey. Most lessons are learned through experience, not in a book or classroom. Mentors share their experiences with you so you can learn without making the same mistakes. Plus, they are the people you can turn to when you have a tough decision to make or find yourself in some difficult situations. My mentors have helped me navigate many life and professional experiences and helped me to become the woman I am today.
Complete the sentence: “If I wasn’t an attorney, I would be a…”
I would probably be a doctor. I started out pre-med at Case Western because I’ve always had a fascination with the sciences and a desire to help others. Had I not decided to go to law school, I would have gone to medical school so one day I could open a clinic in my home country, Jamaica.