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

Assistant 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

Associate Director of Employer and Externship Program 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.

Assistant Director of Career Development
J.D. Boston College Law School
B.A. Yale University
[email protected]

Martha comes to St. John's law school after an 11-year career as a criminal defense attorney. She spent over 7 years at the Bronx Defenders defending people facing misdemeanors and serious felony charges among an inspiring community of advocates and activists. Martha co-founded the Bronx Defenders' first Prisoners' Rights Project to improve the lives of people in custody and advocate for investment in communities over jails and prisons. She also spent 3 years in private practice handling both public and private criminal defense cases and civil rights matters in state and federal court. Martha graduated from Boston College Law School as a Public Service Scholar and winner of the Lewis S. Gurwitz Award for commitment to indigent defense. In law school she spent much of her time at the Legal Assistance Bureau assisting low-income members of the greater Boston community. Martha received a bachelor's degree from Yale University.

In addition to assisting students and alumni with identifying areas of potential practice and career opportunities as Assistant Director of Career Development, Martha will serve as an adjunct professor.

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.

Ashleigh Kashimawo

Director of Public Interest Programs
J.D. Harvard Law School
B.A. Wellesley College
[email protected]

Before coming to St. John’s Law, Ashleigh spent her career in public service. Ashleigh is a very proud graduate of Wellesley College, where she was active as a student advocate for multicultural affairs. Between college and law school Ashleigh worked for a non-profit organization focusing on Hurricane Katrina relief and as a paralegal for the Federal Defenders of New York. After law school, Ashleigh worked as a public defender in New Orleans and then New York. Her practice areas were criminal and family law.

Ashleigh works with the Public Interest Center and Public Interest Law Students Association to increase the public interest ethos at the law school and create and expand public interest opportunities for students. Ashleigh oversees the Law School’s public service projects, the Public Interest Auction, the Public Interest Summer Fellowship Program, and other programs designed to foster a view of public interest as intrinsic to the study and practice of law.

Catherine Quinn

Assistant 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

Associate Director of 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

Associate Director of Career Development and Bankruptcy Counseling
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.

Assistant Director of Career Development
J.D. St. John’s University School of Law
B.A. University of Delaware
[email protected]

Elyssa attended St. John's Law, during which time she served on the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, and achieved the Dean's Award for Excellence in Advanced Torts.  

After graduating from St. John's Law, Elyssa worked with some of New York's most prestigious plaintiff's medical malpractice firms over the course of seven years. During her time as a litigator, Elyssa second-chaired high-value trials, and engaged in extensive court appearances, depositions, negotiations, and motion practice.  As a result of her success in practice, Elyssa received numerous honors, including features in Super Lawyer's "Rising Stars" and Best Lawyer's "Ones to Watch."