The night held almost as much suspense as the courtrooms Lynne Abraham frequented as Philadelphia district attorney. Her visit to the Penn State Abington law forum coincided with media buzz that she planned to run for mayor of Pennsylvania's largest city next year. Given her reputation as a straight shooter, it came as no surprise that she didn't wait for anyone to ask.
“I am a candidate for mayor of Philadelphia,” Abraham said by way of introducing herself to the roomful of Abington students.
She addressed a few pointed questions from students about the strained Philadelphia schools and the business climate in the city but refrained from declaring official positions. But Abraham did remind the audience of her government experience in addition to 18 years leading the city prosecutor's office.
Once the political intrigue ran its course, Abraham and her co-panelists were candid with the Abington students considering careers in law. Law school requires significant resources of time and money, and they wanted the students to be sure they are passionate enough to make such a commitment.
"You can do anything with a law degree but consider the realities of the marketplace," Abraham said. "Law is fascinating. It's constantly changing and evolving"
Her remarks were echoed by Layli Alexander, assistant general counsel for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. The Abington graduate implored students to "make sure you perform your due diligence for financing law school."
"Abington prepared me for law school by challenging and improving my reading and writing skills."
-- Jonathan Shaw, attorney
Jonathan Shaw graduated from Abington in 2008 with a clerkship for a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge under his belt.
"Abington prepared me for law school by challenging and improving my reading and writing skills," he said.
After completing law school, Shaw now works in commercial litigation for a suburban law firm.
"Being a young associate is demanding, but you can tell it's the right career for you if you love to read and write and never stop learning," he said.
Although Patricia Workman now teaches at Abington, she began her career as counsel at Subaru of America and in trade regulation and antitrust for an international law firm.
"There is life outside of corporate law and law firms. Consider all of your options," the 19-year Abington veteran said.
Three of the panelists including Brian J. Kredo and Allison Bressler Goldis reinforced the work/life balance challenge including giving back to the community and to Abington.
Attorney Nancy P. Fratz graduated from Abington but as an adult student.
"I stepped into college as soon as my son stepped on to the school bus," Fratz, an assistant deputy public defender for the state of New Jersey, said smiling.
The 16th annual Penn State Abington Law Forum was sponsored by the Career Development Center and Academic Affairs.