Last month, the University of Richmond School of Law welcomed Janet Hutchinson, the school's new associate dean for career development.
Dean Hutchinson said she hadn't planned to leave her previous job, but when she received a call from Dean Wendy Perdue, she was convinced that University of Richmond School of Law would be a good fit. Hutchinson explained, "Richmond Law presented the opportunity to work with a dynamic (and convincing) Dean, talented faculty, and a committed staff, all of whom are focused on students and the student experience." And once she visited the UR campus, Hutchinson said, "It just felt right."
"The opportunity to lead the Career Development Office here at Richmond Law was appealing to me because it clearly is a special time for the Law School," added Hutchinson. "So many wonderful things are happening right now and the energy and excitement is obvious and contagious."
She also liked the prospect of building the career development office to meet the challenges facing today's students and alumni. And Dean Hutchinson knows a thing or two about developing career offices and services. Before joining the School of Law, Hutchinson was the assistant dean for career services at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Ga. In her five years at Emory, she was responsible for rebuilding its career services office. She added, "I love a challenge and building things."
Dean Hutchinson also served as the attorney recruiting and development manager for the Atlanta office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP and worked in Northwestern Law's Center for Career Strategy & Advancement where, Hutchinson said, she had the opportunity to see a career services office "at its very best." She also practiced law in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. Hutchinson received a B.A. in Journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her J.D. from Duke University in Durham, N.C.
Dean Hutchinson is developing plans for more student-centered programs and services. "One of the things that seems really unique about Richmond law is that it's a relatively small community, and the students get a lot of individual attention." She plans to apply that approach to the Career Development Office by working with students one-on-one to define and meet their professional goals. In today's economy, Hutchinson added, it's especially important for students to focus on establishing these goals early.
Once two new career advisors join the team, Dean Hutchinson plans to pair each law student with a career advisor. She explained, "Certainly we hope that students will come to us when they need help, but having a particular advisor who is responsible for that student means the advisor can be reaching out to the student and forwarding resources, news, and information."
Dean Hutchinson wants to help students to be proactive in establishing professional networks. Professional development programming will help students work on self-presentation, self-marketing, and managing business social interactions. She added, "Those things can be just as important as what's on your resume."
Dean Hutchinson also plans to collaborate with other law school and university faculty and staff. She'll be calling on Associate Dean for Library and Information Services Tim Coggins and the law library staff to help pull together resources. The alumni and development staff members will play an important role in helping the Career Development Office and students build relationships with alumni and prospective employers. She also plans to collaborate with the university's undergraduate career services office.
Hutchinson is also looking forward to getting to know the members of the Career Development Advisory Board. The board enlists second- and third- year law students to serve as liaisons between students and the Career Development staff. She added, "It's really important to have student partners and to be able to get feedback about how things are going with them."
Hutchinson likes a lot of things about her job, but she especially loves working with students. She explained, "Every group of students and every individual student is a little bit different, and so getting to know them and what motivates them is really energizing."