Career Development Team
Assistant Dean for Career Development
Jeanne Ardan received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Fordham University and her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law, where she was Articles and Notes Editor of the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review. Following her graduation, Ms. Ardan became a member of the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut bars. She began her legal career at Ford Marrin Esposito Witmeyer & Gleser, L.L.P., a boutique litigation firm, where she specialized in environmental insurance coverage defense matters. She then joined the litigation group at Banks Gruen Shapiro & Gettinger, LLP (now Banks, Shapiro, Gettinger & Waldinger LLP) and primarily handled medical malpractice defense cases.
Ms. Ardan began her career in legal recruiting as Director of Placement and Business Development at the Kelly Law Registry. She served for three years in this role before returning to alma mater St. John’s University School of Law in August, 2002. As the Assistant Dean for Career Development, Ms. Ardan counsels students and fellow alumni, plans career-related programs and events, conducts employer outreach, and supervises the staff and daily operations of the Office. In April 2004, St. John’s Student Bar Association presented Ms. Ardan with a Certificate of Appreciation for her service to students during the 2003-2004 school year. In 2013, she received the Administrative Outstanding Achievement Award from St. John's University.
Associate Director of Employer Relations
A two-time graduate of St. John’s University, Ms. Quinn received a Bachelor’s Degree in History prior to pursuing a Master’s Degree in Student Development and Practice in Higher Education. Helena has been with the Office since 2000, and previously held the position of Recruitment Coordinator. As the Associate Director of Employer Relations, Ms. Quinn serves as a liaison between students, the School of Law, and employers. In addition to employer outreach and job development, Helena oversees the Fall and Spring Recruitment Programs as well as all Job Fairs in which St. John’s School of Law participates.
Associate Director of Career Development, Clerkships and Diversity Programs
Rena Varghese received her Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School, where she was an Editor of the Cornell International Law Journal and member of the Moot Court Executive Board. She received her Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Political Science, with a Minor in Computer Applications, from New York University. Rena joined St. John’s University School of Law in June 2006, after practicing real estate and structured finance at Thacher Proffitt & Wood LLP.
Associate Director of Employer and Externship Program Outreach
After receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration from Adelphi University in 1993, Thomas Blennau received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law in 2002, graduating in the top 15% of his class. Tom attended St. John’s in the evening division, while working as a claims supervisor for one of the leading claims administrators in the country. He began his legal career as a summer associate with the law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and returned as an associate in the technology and outsourcing group. He then went on to serve as Vice President/Counsel in the Intellectual Property/Information Technology legal group of Deutsche Bank AG. Thereafter, Tom worked as counsel for a technology practice on Long Island while managing his own law practice, focusing on special education matters.
Tom returned to alma mater as the Assistant Director of Employer Outreach in the Career Development Office. In this role, Tom spends the majority of his time on the road, visiting employers and alumni with a focus on strengthening and developing relationships, assisting with recruiting needs, and generating new employment opportunities for the students and alumni of St. John’s University School of Law.
Associate Director of Career Development and Bankruptcy Counseling
Laura Schwartz received her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law, where she was also a member of the Law Review, and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Emory University. Ms. Schwartz is admitted to practice law in the States of New York and Connecticut and before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the Southern and Eastern Districts of the State of New York.
Ms. Schwartz began her legal career as a commercial litigation associate at a major New York law firm. After ten years of practicing litigation, Ms. Schwartz redirected her practice focus and joined the bankruptcy and restructuring department of Chadbourne & Parke LLP, where she represented debtors, creditors and creditors’ committees in the full range of bankruptcy matters, including both litigation of bankruptcy issues and restructuring work. After fifteen years of traditional law firm practice, Ms. Schwartz joined Pittleman & Associates, LLC, an executive legal search firm. As a legal recruiter, Ms. Schwartz conducted legal searches for law firms and corporations in all substantive areas of the law and counseled attorneys seeking to make lateral career moves in a variety of practice areas and industries.
As an Assistant Director of Career Development, Ms. Schwartz counsels law students, Bankruptcy LL.M. students and alumni with respect to their career goals. Ms. Schwartz assists with resume and cover letter writing, interviewing techniques, areas of potential practice, and job search strategies. Ms. Schwartz specializes in counseling students interested in pursuing a career in bankruptcy and restructuring law, international law and practice and commercial litigation. In addition to individual counseling, Ms. Schwartz also assists with career related programs sponsored by the CDO.
Assistant Director of Employer Relations
Tess Abbazio joined the Career Development Office in September 2004. Prior to becoming Assistant Director of Employer Relations, Ms. Abbazio served for two years as the Alumni Services Coordinator followed by 6 years as the Recruitment Coordinator. In those roles, Ms. Abbazio worked with numerous legal employers, serving as liaison between students and employers and handling the recruitment programs for the office. She has also obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the St. John’s University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Assistant Director of Career Development
Lalaine Mercado joined the Career Development Office in March 2015. She received her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law. Prior to joining St. John’s Law School, Lalaine practiced law for several years at two large New York City law firms and subsequently worked as a legal search consultant at a recruiting firm. She received her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in History and Art History, from Fordham University.
Christopher McKittrick received both his Bachelor of Arts and his Master of Arts degrees in English from Hofstra University. He has taught various English composition and literature classes, including workshops on resume and cover letter writing, at a number of area universities. He also worked at Hofstra University’s Writing Center, where he helped students at all levels (including from the Law School) with cover letters, resumes, and writing samples. He is a published writer of fiction and non-fiction, with work appearing in Newsday and scholarly collections.
As the Writing Specialist, Mr. McKittrick proofreads and reviews application documents from students and alumni to ensure they adhere to current trends in legal resume formatting and style. Documents such as resumes, cover letters, and personal statements may be e-mailed to him for a thorough critique. He is also available to meet to discuss more substantive changes and answer questions. In addition to document review, Mr. McKittrick also works on promotional materials for the Career Development Office and assists with the Career Development course for first year students in the fall semester.