Bonnie Jonas is the founder and CEO of Pallas Global, a New York City-based monitorship fund that serves corporations and government agency. She is also a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
How did your law career lead to your journey of starting Pallas Global?
“The journey to Pallas Global really started from my years at Wharton’s business school. During my time at Wharton, I always knew that I wanted to go into law, but I did not want to go straight into law school after college. I worked as a consultant and financial analyst before focusing on my legal career.
After graduating law school, I worked at a law firm and then spent a year as a law clerk to a federal judge in Brooklyn. During that clerkship, I saw first-hand what prosecutors did on a daily basis. I watched trials and observed as talented federal prosecutors made arguments before judges and juries. I saw defense lawyers craft and deliver their arguments and demonstrate superb advocacy skills. This experience provided me with an opportunity to observe up close the principles and experiences that originally motivated me to become a lawyer. I understood that as a young prosecutor you were entrusted with a tremendous amount of responsibility that junior lawyers are rarely given at law firms. It was during that clerkship that I was certain that I wanted to become a federal prosecutor.
During my clerkship, I applied for a job and was hired to become a federal prosecutor, specifically an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In that role, I prosecuted a wide variety of cases, but I focused most of my career on corporate fraud in the financial and automotive sectors. In connection with my corporate criminal resolutions, I often recommended that the company retain a third-party monitor to ensure that the misconduct giving rise to the criminal matter would not recur and to assist the company with making changes that would facilitate remediation. In essence, the monitor is put in place to make sure that the company fixes the problems that led to the misconduct and makes sure the organization strengthens its culture and controls so that it does not engage in that type of conduct again.
This experience provided the inspiration for Pallas Global – to help companies prevent misconduct, enhance their governance structure, and create a strong corporate culture.”
What advice would you give to yourself on the day you graduated from college?
“My advice would be to take your time and don’t be in a rush. There are so many opportunities to do different things. When I was twenty-one, I spent time working in consulting before I went to law school. There are many different paths to take to get to your dream career. Don’t be in a big rush to figure it all out at thirteen, or seventeen, or twenty-one. Young people think they have to have know all the answers right away, but you don’t have to have everything figured out. Give yourself time to explore and pursue opportunities that interest you.”
What were the most important lessons you learned as a prosecutor that you have applied to your work as CEO of Pallas Global?
“I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of many memorable cases. I am proud of being part of ground-breaking, historic matters and representing the people of the United States. However, equally important, is that I was always fair and open minded, even in the cases that were not as high profile. I never let pressure to take action influence me — if the decision not to prosecute was the right thing to do, I would make sure to do the right thing. There have been times that prosecuting an individual would have been a popular choice of action, but it wasn’t the right thing to do. I realize that as a public servant I was entrusted by the public to do the right thing, in the right way. I understood that doing my job often meant separating people from their liberty and loved ones. I took the responsibility seriously.
Who is your role model?
“A federal judge has served as a mentor and friend to me for decades. She was also a former prosecutor, and having someone as a mentor who had similar experiences has been very helpful for me. I think a mentor who is accessible and willing to talk about different phases of your life, both professional and personal, is very valuable. No one in my family was a lawyer, and I had to look externally for professional role models, and so I found great guidance and wisdom in the judge for whom I clerked.”
Is there anything you would want our readers to know?
“Don’t rush. Enjoy all the phases and opportunities that come to you.”
Contributor: Ashni Nadgauda