Cara Parmigiani pulls the strings of a traditional general practice
Published in 2020 New Jersey Super Lawyers magazine on March 17, 2020
Here’s a tongue twister: Cara Parmigiani’s pet project features pony puppets. Say that four times fast.
And these aren’t just any puppets. They, like Parmigiani herself, are graduates of Seton Hall Law School, and they have the small, framed diplomas to prove it.
Tristan and Pascal run the firm Pony & Pony (poniesatlaw.com), and, like their creator, they believe in the law. “They think that the law should be fair, and they’re always surprised when it isn’t,” says Parmigiani. “It’s something that we should all be striving for.”
The Mountain Lakes-based general practice attorney once considered art school, chose the law instead, but made sure to bring her art with her.
Parmigiani sewed the puppets herself, then rounded up a team that included two puppeteers, a small film crew and a handful of SHU law professors. Together they filmed dozens of YouTube webisodes featuring the puppets explaining topics like drafting a will, securing a patent and navigating child custody arrangements. Tristan and Pascal are earnest and funny, and they’re able to discuss the law using everyday language.
While a fun, creative outlet for stress relief, Pony & Pony webisodes are, at the core, examples of Parmigiani’s commitment to demystifying the law. “I just don’t think the law should be a black box that people can’t understand,” she says. “If you have a client who’s coming in, the more informed they are, the better client they make.”
Last year Parmigiani, a frequent speaker at events like the New Jersey State Bar Association’s annual meeting, led a discussion called “Bridging the Generational Gap,” which was somewhat controversial for its pro-millennial focus. “Regardless of your feelings about millennials,” she says, “they’re the next generation of employees. They’re the next generation of homeowners.” At 37, she sits on the cusp of that demographic.
A solo practitioner, she works in a wide variety of dockets, including property ownership, family law and contractual issues. Parmigiani jokes that her superpower is being organized, and she compares what she does to the Norman Rockwell painting Doctor and Doll, which features a doctor taking the pulse of a young girl’s baby doll. “I think there’s a need for general practice, and that’s what I’m there for: [navigating] your family throughout a variety of legal needs, whether it be municipal tickets, starting your own business, or something else that comes up. I’m there to help with your everyday problems and your extraordinary problems,” she says.
Her ongoing work with the nonprofit Unchained at Last, which helps women leave forced and child marriages, falls into the “extraordinary problems” category. The cases are lengthy, but she enjoys helping the women and collaborating with other attorneys. “These are not fluffy divorces. These women are trying to leave a marriage that has been abusive,” she says. “Sometimes there’s a restraining order involved, and sometimes there are all kinds of collateral issues.”
In 2019, Parmigiani ran for Freeholder of Morris County. She downplays her decision to run, noting that the Democrats needed a candidate, so she stepped up. “You can stand back and wait for everyone else to do something,” she says. “Or you can try.” She came within 3 percent of winning, and she hints that another run for office may be in her future.
In the meantime, there’s much to keep her busy. Parmigiani is making plans to turn Pony & Pony into a musical, and she and her wife are parents to a 1-year-old daughter who recently learned to walk.
“I am that person who’s always waiting for that next step,” says Parmigiani of her parenting philosophy, which sounds a bit like her life philosophy. “Because I am looking forward to the step that I can do better. I’m just hoping to get there eventually.”