Ex-Philadelphia DA leads Penn State Abington Law School Forum

Students attending the Penn State Abington Law School Forum last week likely didn’t expect Lynn Abraham, the gritty former Philadelphia district attorney, to offer them a dose of motherly advice.

“To be successful, it doesn’t matter which law school you attend,” she said. Abraham solemnly gestured to her head and then her chest and told the audience, “It is your brain, and it is your heart that will make the difference in your life. You have to outwork everybody else.”

“I had a fire in my belly. I didn’t go to an Ivy League law school. We were the junkyard dogs, scrapping to get by,” she continued as the audience laughed heartily.

About 140 Penn State Abington students packed the campus’ Lubert Commons and peppered Abraham and the high-powered panelists with questions about careers in the legal field. Attending law school part time verses full time, stress management, work-family balance and the value of discovering your passion were among the topics they discussed.

The panelists encouraged students to explore the many options that legal training offers. “Once you develop skills as a lawyer, you can take it with you anywhere in the world,” Ronald Shaffer, a partner in the law firm of Fox Rothschild, said. The Penn State alum also told aspiring attorneys that employment prospects at law firms have improved recently.

Temple law student Jonathan Shaw said that legal training is challenging but rewarding. “Don’t let the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) scare you, but law school is very scary,” he said and smiled. “It’s rough, it’s tough, but it is so much fun.”

Shaw, a Penn State alum, also reminded the students about the importance of ethics and discretion. “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but it only takes a few moments of weakness to destroy it. Carefully consider your behavior before it appears on Facebook or Twitter.”

Carol DeBunda, coordinator of the Career Development Center at Abington, said the law forum was an outstanding opportunity for students. “The array of experience that the panelists represented gave the students the opportunity to think: Is one of these avenues for me?” she said. DeBunda has organized the law school forum at Abington for 13 years.

Several panelists reminded the students to utilize the resources available at Abington. Shaw, the law student, described the Career Development Center as “unbelievable.” He said DeBunda introduced him to the Honorable Glynnis D. Hill of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, which led to an internship last summer.

In addition to Abraham, Shaffer and Shaw, eight others representing diverse choices in legal careers were invited to the forum: Allison Bressler Goldis, associate, Marshall, Dennehy, Warner, Coleman & Goggin; Julia Cheskis Weisberg, associate, Pepper Hamilton; Lauren DeBunda Shank, attorney, community volunteer and stay-at-home mother; Salar Ghahramani, lecturer, law and political science, Penn State Abington; the Hon. Glynnis D. Hill, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas; Brian J. Kredo, partner, Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo; Stephen Mallozzi, vice president and associate general counsel, ARAMARK Education; and Wendy Reczek, paralegal, IP Legal Services.

For more information on the Career Development Center at Penn State Abington, go to www.abington.psu.edu/careerdevelopment or follow them on Facebook at Penn State Abington Career Development.