After working for Pan Am airlines for 16 years, Judge Margaret Parisi-McGowan knew that law was the field where she would truly soar.
“It was always in the back of my mind wanting to do it,” she said.
Parisi-McGowan was surrounded by the law from an early age, with both her grandfather and father working as attorneys for many years.
Although she made the decision to work at Pan Am, Parisi-McGowan wanted to do more. Her 16 years at the company as a union representative handling arbitrations put her in constant contact with the law, though she did not take the plunge until later.
She eventually decided to pursue her dream. She was in the second graduating class in the City University of New York’s School of Law in 1987.
In 1990, she began practicing as a court attorney and later decided she wanted to become a judge. In 1998, she was appointed as a housing court judge in the Queens County Civil Court, where she dealt with numerous family issues. That led her to want to become a family court judge.
“The issues that arose in housing court were very similar to family court,” she said. “It was all very connected to family.”
During her time in law school, Parisi-McGowan took a number of family law courses and interned at Advocates for Children Rights.
In 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Parisi-McGowan judge for the Queens County Family Court.
“You save a lot of kids’ lives and turn families around,” she said. “Sometimes it’s sad and emotionally draining, but it’s rewarding because you turn around a lot of families.”
Her term as a family court judge ends in 2015, but Parisi-McGowan hopes to continue serving as a judge and helping as many families as she can.
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