Faculty Profile: Assistant Professor of Law Gregory Parks

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Assistant Professor of Law Gregory Parks

Assistant Professor of Law Gregory Parks’ research focuses on how race and social science intersect with the law. 

While generally interested in the application of cognitive and social psychology to law, his work has specifically focused on implicit (automatic/unconscious) attitudes and how they relate, or should relate, to the law.

Parks’ scholarship also focuses on black fraternal networks and their relation to the law–from both an empirical (e.g., violent hazing) and historical (e.g., involvement in the Civil Rights movement).

While he was doing his post-graduate work in Kentucky, he worked on his first book, “African American Fraternities and Sororities.” As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first continuous intercollegiate black fraternity, which happens to be Dean Blake D. Morant’s fraternity, Parks discovered there had been little serious scholarship done on these organizations.

“My interest came from being a member and I thought the book was going to be a one off,” he said. “But when I started receiving a lot of emails after the book was published in 2005 with questions we hadn’t answered in the first book, I thought I would address the topic again.”

These fraternities and sororities are some of the most complex organizations Parks said he has ever encountered. “They are full of luminaries that were involved in the civil rights movement and helped facilitate their networks for social change,” he said.

He has authored or edited nearly 10 scholarly books, including “12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today” (The New Press 2011), “The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?” (Oxford University Press 2011), and “Alpha Phi Alpha: A Legacy of Greatness, the Demands of Transcendence” (University Press of Kentucky 2011).  Parks has also authored more than a half-dozen law review articles. He is currently co-authoring a book for Oxford University Press on unconscious race bias and the law.

Parks earned his JD from Cornell University in 2008, a doctor of philosophy in clinical psychology and a master’s of arts in clinical psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2004/01, a master’s of science in forensic psychology from City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1999 and a bachelor’s of science in psychology from Howard University in 1996.

Prior to coming to Wake Forest, Professor Parks practiced in Trial Group in the Washington, D.C., office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. There he worked on general trial and appellate matters.

He has also been a Visiting Fellow at Cornell Law School and a law clerk on both the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for the Honorable Andre M. Davis and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, Parks will teach Civil Procedure and Unconscious Bias and the Law.  In subsequent years he expects to add courses in Social Science and the Law and Race and the Law.

Parks said he went to Kentucky to train to be a trial consultant, and while he was in graduate school there he met another student in his program, Michelle Cardi, wife of Wake Forest’s Associate Dean of Research and Development Jonathan Cardi. Mrs. Cardi facilitated a meeting and a close friendship developed between Professor Parks and Associate Dean Cardi.

“I was interested in being a professor but not a psychology professor, because the research didn’t appeal to me and Jonathan convinced me to become a law professor,” explained Parks, who has since co-edited a book with Cardi on the intersection of psychology, race and the law.

Parks is looking forward to teaching Wake Forest law students and continuing his research. “The teaching part came from my parents,” he said, “My mom was an elementary school teacher and my dad was a junior high and high school teacher and administrator.”

In his spare time, Professor Parks enjoys doing mixed martial arts, cooking and traveling.

“I have a black belt and I don’t play around,” he said with a smile.