Monica M. Guilarte was born on August 2, 1985. Monica’s father and grandparents were immigrants from Cuba and came to the United States in 1967 for a new beginning. They arrived knowing minimal to no English, and were only permitted to bring with them the clothes on their backs. Monica grew up hearing many stories from her grandparents of their struggles trying to survive in a foreign country. These stories heard at a very young age instilled in her qualities of determination, strength, and drive; qualities which would foster Monica to pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Monica is a native to the Columbia area, and attended high school at River Hill High. It was during her high school years when Monica knew she wanted to pursue a career as a lawyer. She was always the “hard-head” of the family, arguing to the end of every discussion with her parents and siblings.
Upon graduating from River Hill High School, Monica continued her education and attended University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She pursued a degree in Criminology. Monica was on the Dean’s List and inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts and as an official Florida Gator!
Unsure if she was ready to immediately start law school, Monica moved back to Maryland in May 2007 to look for employment. In August of 2007, Monica was hired as a receptionist at Shapiro & Mack. While working as a receptionist and becoming engaged in the day to day activities of a lawyer, Monica knew for sure her high school goal of becoming a lawyer was what she wanted. Monica’s first step toward her dream was being accepted to the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2008. While working at Shapiro & Mack full time, Monica attended night classes at University of Baltimore. As she excelled in her academics at the Law School, Monica also worked her way up the ladder at Shapiro & Mack. Her passion and drive were paramount in her move from receptionist, to legal assistant, to paralegal at Shapiro & Mack.
As a paralegal, Monica worked closely alongside the attorneys at Shapiro & Mack in the firm’s primary practice areas of criminal defense, personal injury, and collections. Monica assisted the Shapiro & Mack attorneys on a number of cases, including but not limited to, being a part of the trial team that prevailed with dismissals on the only First Degree Murder case dismissed by the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office in this century.
In an effort to graduate early from Law School, Monica took summer classes each semester. Through many sacrifices and hard work, Monica graduated a semester early from University of Baltimore School of Law in December 2011. Her first attempt at the Maryland Bar exam was in February 2011. Monica was one of the 65% who passed the exam that year. Her dream was finally a reality.
Prior to starting her own firm, Monica worked as an associate attorney at Shapiro & Mack. During that time, she was the lead attorney handling the Collections Department. Monica also gained experience by handling personal injury cases, criminal and traffic matters, numerous motor vehicle administration hearings, and protective/peace order hearings.
On January 28, 2015, Monica made the decision to start her own firm and opened the Law Office of Monica Guilarte, LLC.