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Elizabeth A. Ellis: Assistant Dean and Director of Law Career Services, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, IL

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Ellis decided to go into law during her junior year of college. "I attended the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico, and took a course which discussed the Mexican legal system," said Ellis. "I was fascinated by the differences between the American and Mexican legal systems and wanted to learn more, with the goal of practicing international corporate law someday."

Her plans changed after a second visit to Mexico. "I clerked at a small law firm in Mexico City my first summer during law school and at a small law firm in Indianapolis my second summer," said Ellis. "After graduation, I worked at Katten Muchin Zavis for two years and then at Miller Shakman Hamilton Kurtzon & Schlifke for one year before finally joining DePaul." She then made the transition into academia after coming upon the opportunity for her current position through networking with a former BAR/BRI employee. Ellis served as a student BAR/BRI representative at Valparaiso. BAR/BRI is a company that offers the most widely used bar exam preparation course in the country.

Ellis said that she really enjoys working closely with students and witnessing first-hand their development from timid and uncertain first-years into confident and successful graduates. "I also enjoy helping them find those opportunities that truly make them happy," said Ellis.

According to Ellis, career service counselors are like instructors teaching job-search strategies and networking skills, which are just as valuable as anything the students learn in a substantive curriculum course. "Students need to better understand the role career services plays in their job search. Some students make the mistake of viewing the career services office as merely an office that houses job postings and offers fall and spring campus-interviewing programs and job fairs," said Ellis.

"Career services offices are a resource provided to students to assist them in their career development and strategy. To effectively make use of all the career services office has to offer, students should attend the various programs offered, make the time to network with the featured alumni program speakers, meet with their career counselor at least once a semester just to check in, and utilize online and library resources offered by the office."

Ellis said that she loves her current position because it enables her to work with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and employers and to develop working relationships with all of them. "I also love the variety that comes with the job on a daily basis," said Ellis.

According to Ellis, career services offices across the nation receive a lot of negative press from students and alumni alike. Sometimes it can be a challenge to maintain enthusiasm and energy for the services and programs they promote, especially when they feel their efforts aren't appreciated. "However," Ellis added, "no matter how many negative comments you may hear, whatever impact they might have subsides when you hear even one simple 'Thank you. I really appreciate your help.'"

Two of the greatest career influences in Ellis' life were Gail Peshel from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Susan Gainen from the University of Minnesota Law School. "Both Gail and Susan have provided me encouragement through the years and guidance on how to handle matters with which I was unfamiliar. They have shared their years of experience with me—what's worked and what hasn't—and this wisdom has helped me formulate program and resource offerings for students at DePaul," said Ellis.

For Ellis, two of the most important issues facing the legal community are balancing work and private life and the increasing diversity among attorneys within the field. Her advice to law students is to be proactive in their job searches and not rely solely on the school's interviewing programs and job postings. "Seek out opportunities in the hidden job market. Become active members in your local bar associations, and talk with other professionals in your field of interest. Develop a network. Though the profession is large, we are a close-knit community; and many career opportunities are realized, as in my case, through internal referrals," said Ellis.

A Chicago native, Ellis returned home after attending college and law school in Indiana. She is proud to be the first and only attorney in her family. Her hobbies and interests include reading, running, watching and playing sports, traveling, wine tasting, and spending time with friends and family.

Depaul University College of Law


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