2018-03-05

Change is not made all at once. It builds gradually over time – one person, one student, one client at a time. City Year Philadelphia ’01, ’02 alumna Monica Glicken understands this well. Monica now works as the lead attorney of the immigration unit of the Public Law Center, a non-profit legal services provider in Orange County, California.

“The values of City Year are ingrained in everything I do,” Monica said. “My line of work can be exhilarating and rewarding, but it can also be gut-wrenching and incredibly discouraging. Day after day, even when it seems overwhelming, I just keep doing my very best to help each individual I come across.”

Monica not only works to help those in need, but she also tries to build systems and laws that will help and protect individuals proactively.

Her journey to becoming an immigration attorney has been a long but rewarding one.

“After serving for two years at City Year Philadelphia, I attended law school at Harvard. While in school, I was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, a student-run, low-income legal assistance office, where I got my first taste of real lawyering,” Monica recalls. “The lessons I learned at City Year about taking the initiative and being a creative problem-solver definitely came in handy there. I was also happy once again to be a part of team of people who, like my teammates, were working for a cause greater than ourselves and who became like family to me.”

After law school, Monica returned to Philadelphia and worked as a law clerk for a federal district court judge before continuing her clerkship in Chicago for the Immigration Judges at the Chicago Immigration Center. “After I finished my clerkships, I worked for eight years at a small immigration law firm in Chicago, helping immigrants to keep their families united, to defend against deportation, and to become U.S. citizens,” she said.

In late January of 2017, she joined many other attorneys while volunteering at LAX and protesting against the Muslim travel ban.

It is the community aspect that truly inspires Monica. There’s something powerful about everyone uniting in service. One by one, those changes really begin to add up into meaningful progress.

“It is important to me to do my best to practice law in a way that is connected and true to the communities that I am serving,” Monica said. “I am always learning from our community organizers, immigrant families and other concerned community members. Yes, I may have a law degree and a law license, but by no means do I hold all the answers in my hands[…]. Only by working together as a team can we as a community make change happen, whether it's on a small or a big scale.”

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