Career Development Team

The Career Development Team at St. John's School of Law welcomes inquiries from prospective students, current students, alumni, and employers about our programs and services.

Our Staff

Jeanne Ardan

Associate Dean of Career Development and Externships
J.D. St. John’s University School of Law
B.A. Fordham University
[email protected]

Jeanne Ardan has worked in the Law School’s Career Development Office since 2002.

After graduating cum laude from St. John’s Law, where she was Articles and Notes Editor of the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review, Jeanne worked at the boutique law firm Ford Marrin, where her practice focused on environmental insurance coverage defense matters. She then joined the litigation group at Banks Gruen Shapiro & Gettinger, LLP (now Shapiro, Gettinger, Waldinger & Monteleone LLP), where she primarily handled medical malpractice defense cases.

Moving to the legal recruiting field, Jeanne was Director of Placement and Business Development at the Kelly Law Registry before coming to St. John’s Law. As the Law School’s Associate Dean for Career Development and Externships, she counsels students and fellow alumni, plans career-related programs and events, conducts employer outreach, and supervises the office’s staff and daily operations. She also manages the law school’s extensive externship program and oversees the operations of the Public Interest Center.

The Law School’s Student Bar Association has presented Jeanne with a Certificate of Appreciation for her service to students and St. John’s University has awarded her its prestigious Administrative Outstanding Achievement Award. Jeanne is a member of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut bars.


Tess Abazzio

Associate Director of Employer Relations
B.A. St. John's University 
[email protected]

Tess Abbazio joined the Career Development Office in 2004 as the Alumni Services Coordinator. After two years in that role, she spent six years as the office's Recruitment Coordinator. In those roles, Tess worked with numerous legal employers and served as liaison between students and employers.  As Assistant Director of Employer Relations, Tess continues to develop relationships with employers and is responsible for the administration of the office’s major recruitment initiatives, including the Fall and Spring Recruitment Programs, the Employer Showcase, and the Mock Interview Programs.

Tom Blennau

Director of the Lexy and Samuel S. Lionel ’40, ‘10HON Externship Program and Employer Outreach
J.D. St. John's University School of Law
B.B.A. Adelphi University
[email protected]

Thomas Blennau attended St. John's Law as an evening student while working as a claims supervisor for one of the country's leading claims administrators. After graduating cum laude in the top 15% of his class, he started his legal career in the technology and outsourcing group at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, where he had been a summer associate.

Tom went on to serve as Vice President/Counsel in the Intellectual Property/Information Technology legal group of Deutsche Bank AG, and then worked as counsel for a technology practice on Long Island while managing his own law practice, focusing on special education matters.

Returning to alma mater in 2015 to join the Career Development Office, 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 St. John's Law students and alumni.

22_Charlie Hill

Assistant Director of Career Development
J.D. Brooklyn Law School
B.A. Binghamton University
[email protected]

Charlie Hill attended Brooklyn Law School, where he earned his law degree in the evening program while working at a large Long Island medical malpractice and general liability defense firm. He earned American Jurisprudence Awards in Civil Procedure and Legal Ethics while at Brooklyn Law. After law school, he worked as a litigator, first at a boutique medical malpractice firm and then in-house for an insurance company. Over a twelve-year period, Mr. Hill regularly appeared in court, conducting and defending numerous arbitrations, mediations, depositions and trials.

Charlie then pursued a career within academia and was a career counselor at two other local law schools, most recently Hofstra University School of Law, before joining St. John’s University School of Law. As an Assistant Director of Career Development, he assists students and alumni with job search strategies, resume and cover letter writing, and interviewing techniques and preparation.

Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz

Director of Public Interest Center
J.D. University of Puerto Rico School of Law
B.B.A. University of Puerto Rico
[email protected]

Jeanne serves as the Director of the Public Interest Center at St. John's Law, where she oversees a comprehensive range of programs that include student and alumni engagement, career advising, and fundraising. Prior to this role, she led and developed key initiatives at Pro Bono Net, a leading national nonprofit in New York focused on expanding access to legal aid and pro bono through technology solutions and community partnerships. These initiatives included the expansion of support for self-represented litigants navigating family and housing issues. Jeanne was also behind the creation and growth of Advocates for Disaster Justice, the largest national network of justice advocates and allies working to advance equity, rights, and resilience in communities impacted by disasters, where she helped train thousands of attorneys nationwide on disaster legal recovery issues and community preparedness.

Jeanne's experience extends to Puerto Rico, where she offered free legal representation and employment discrimination litigation on behalf of low-income LGBT clients. As a law student, she established an award-winning Ms. JD organization offering essential professional development resources to law students and facilitated community legal education workshops around the island for three years. She has presented on pro bono, public interest, and disaster legal services at events hosted by the American Bar Association, the Legal Services Corporation, the Pro Bono Institute, the Practising Law Institute, and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. In 2021, she received the notable distinction of being named among the ABA's Top 40 Young Lawyers On the Rise. Jeanne also contributes to various public interest committees and efforts, including the New York City Bar Pro Bono & Legal Services Committee, the New York State Bar Association’s Environmental Justice Committee, and the American Bar Association's National Disaster Legal Services Program. She is bilingual and holds licenses to practice law in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and New Jersey.

Catherine Quinn

Associate Director of Career Development
J.D. St. John's University School of Law
B.A. Fordham University
[email protected]

After graduating from the evening program at St. John's Law, Catherine Quinn worked for several years as a litigation associate with firms in New York City and on Long Island before becoming a director at a legal search firm. She then moved into the field of law school career services, first as an Assistant Director at Touro Law, and most recently as an Associate Director at Fordham University School of Law.

Prior to attending law school, Catherine worked for elected officials in New York State and New York City government, and spent a year in service working at a children’s shelter in Texas. 

Helena Rojas

Director of Technology, Reporting & Employer Relations
M.A./B.A. St. John's University
[email protected]

A double alumna of St. John's University, Helena Quinn holds a Master’s Degree in Student Development and Practice in Higher Education. She joined the Career Development Office in 2000 as Recruitment Coordinator. Now, as the office's Associate Director of Employer Relations, Helena serves as a liaison between students, St. John's Law, and employers. In addition to employer outreach and job development, she oversees the Law School's fall and spring recruitment programs and coordinates its participation in job fairs across the country.  

Career Counselor
J.D. St. John’s University School of Law
B.A. St. John's University
[email protected]

Maria Rivero returns to St. John’s Law after a 25-year career with the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, where she retired as Executive Assistant District Attorney.

Her career as a Bronx prosecutor took Maria from ADA positions in the Felony Trial Division and the Narcotics, Grand Jury, and Criminal Court Bureaus, to leadership roles with the 24-hour Homicide/Felony Response Team and as Complaint Room Supervisor and a Major Case Assistant District Attorney in the Domestic Violence/ Sex Offense Bureau. Promoted to the office’s Executive Staff, Maria served as Chief of the Special Victims Division, Chief of Legal Recruitment, and EEO Officer. 

As Legal Recruitment Chief, Maria implemented and coordinated the hiring process for all new assistant district attorneys. She also oversaw year-round internship programs for law school, college, and high school interns, and gave orientation lectures to incoming ADAs on Professional Responsibility.

As a St. John’s Law student, Maria was a St. Thomas More Scholar and served as Notes and Comments Editor for the Journal of Legal Commentary

Laura Schwartz

Director of the Center for Bankruptcy Studies and Career Development
J.D. St. John's University School of Law
B.A. Emory University
[email protected]

After graduating St. John's Law cum laude and as a member of the St. John's Law Review, Laura Schwartz began her legal career as a commercial litigation associate at a major New York law firm. She was a litigator for 10 years before redirecting her practice and joining 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.

Laura left law firm practice after 15 years to join Pittleman & Associates, LLC, an executive legal search firm. As a legal recruiter, she 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.

Returning to alma mater in 2011 to work in the Career Development Office, Laura specializes in counseling J.D. and LL.M. students interested in pursuing a career in bankruptcy and restructuring law, international law and practice, and commercial litigation. She assists with resume and cover letter writing, interviewing techniques, areas of potential practice, and job search strategies. She also helps to produce career-related programs sponsored by the Career Development Office.

Laura is admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut and before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

Robert J. Sein

Director, Mattone Family Institute for Real Estate Law
J.D. St. John's University School of Law 
[email protected]

Robert J. Sein, graduated St. John's Law magna cum laude in 2003, after which he went on to practice commercial real estate in New York City for 13 years with the international firm Sherman & Sterling LLP.

Mr. Sein returned to St. John's Law in 2017 to become Director of the Mattone Institute. As Director, he coordinates the Mattone Institute's programs and initiatives, collaborates with alumni and others in the real estate industry to foster connections with the Law School and its students, and works with students to help them realize their goals in the field of real estate law.

Mr. Sein also serves as an adjunct professor, and as faculty advisor to the N.Y. Real Property Law Journal.

Tamara Stephen

Associate Director of Career Development and Diversity Initiatives
J.D. Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
B.S. Biomedical/Medical Engineering, Boston University
[email protected]

Tamara Stephen joined the Career Development Office in February 2024 after over twenty years in the Career Development Offices at 2 local law schools. 

At both Brooklyn Law School and Hofstra University School of Law, Tamara was responsible for promoting diversity opportunities, judicial internships, and post-graduate judicial clerkships. Tamara received her J.D. from Hofstra where she was an associate editor for the Hofstra Labor Law Journal. Following graduation, she was a litigation associate for six years at Kaye Scholer LLP. 

Tamara is a past chair of the Law Student Perspectives Committee of the New York City Bar Association and a current member of the Association’s Committee on the Recruitment and Retention of Lawyers. Tamara has served as a panelist for a number of NALP and New York City Bar Association programs and has written articles for the NALP bulletin.