Assistant Dean of Career Development – LeaNora Ruffin
Widener Law offers a wealth of resources to their students. In this feature, LeaNora Ruffin, Assistant Dean of Career Development, discusses her staff’s initiatives to help students secure internships and employment after law school.
Before arriving to Widener Law, Dean Ruffin practiced in Philadelphia as a products liability and medical malpractice attorney. In 1998, she moved to Widener Law’s Career Development office.
Dean Ruffin encourages students to develop skills outside of the classroom to give themselves an edge in this tough job market. She finds that employers seek savvy students who understand the importance of meeting bottom lines. They favor new associates with leadership and people skills. Those armed with these qualities are at an advantage.
She also encourages students to think outside of the box. While it is important to create a legal interest during law school, you should also consider new, developing fields. Dean Ruffin suggested watching legislation and news events and ask how law offices would be involved. If a new bill is passed, where do the lawyers come into play? Who would fight the bill? Who would defend it? She suggests considering bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosures, federal government regulations, environmental regulations, healthcare regulations and compliance, family law, criminal defense and general practitioner fields as options with consistent job openings.
The Career Development has offered a variety of resources for students. In the past, they held workshops with prominent speakers from the area, on-campus interviews and job fairs. In addition to updating prior initiatives, they will also start a blog which allows students to see new programs and encouraging student feeback. Dean Ruffin hopes the blog will increase the communication among the law school community and her staff.
The new blog will release in the fall. It will follow a newspaper format and include advice on leadership, professionalism and networking. Dean Ruffin will also incorporate real-life scenarios so students can prepare. For example, what if your boss asks for a case brief the night of your friend’s rehearsal dinner? What do you do? Examples like these illustrate the real-life situations attorneys handle every day.
For alumni, the Career Development office will hold a three session workshop for the most recent graduating class. Those who are still seeking employment will be offered additional guidance and training to secure a full-time position. Dean Ruffin will focus on teaching professionally aggressive job search skills while stressing that students need to go one step beyond what graduates formally did to find jobs. In the past, students were able to send out e-mails and find jobs fairly quickly. Today, students need to engage prospective employers in ways which the Career Development office will describe.
For Extended Division (part-time) students, Linda Shopland, Senior Counselor, holds after hour table discussions in the Atrium (our main hallway on campus). She answers questions and encourages feedback to expand office functions.
Overall, Dean Ruffin hopes to keep improving and expanding the Career Development office. She encourages students to contact her or her staff with questions, concerns and comments. While Career Development assists students in their job search, it is still up to the student to find and secure a job. Dean Ruffin suggests thinking strategically and creatively through this process. When you see an opportunity, what is the origin? Ask questions, be proactive, get involved. This is excellent advice for not only law students, but anyone seeking employment.
For further information please visit http://law.widener.edu/CampusLife/CareerDevelopment.aspx.