July 21, 2012
Crain's Chicago Business
Making a case for Northwestern Law School
By: Lorene Yue
WHO: JULIANN CECCHI
Job: Assistant dean of external partnerships for Northwestern University's School of Law, since May.
Vitals: 52 years old; bachelor's in economics, Denison University, 1982; various positions, Cigna Worldwide Insurance Co., Philadelphia and Houston, 1982-87; insurance consultant, Daher & Associates, Houston, 1988-91; administrative manager, Cigna Financial Advisors Inc., Houston, 1991-93; assistant consultant, Limra International, Hartford, Conn., 1994-96; director of administration, Associated Energy Managers Inc., Longview, Mass., 1996-97; various professional education positions, Northwestern University School of Law, 2001-12.
Strong suit: A decade's worth of connections from overseeing continuing legal education programs. She says her relationships with corporate attorneys, general counsels and in-house legal teams can pave the way for Northwestern's collaboration with the legal industry, which ideally will lead to jobs for graduates.
Track record: Oversees four "solid, revenue-generating" continuing education programs — Securities Regulation Institute, Corporate Counsel Institute, San Francisco Corporate Counsel Institute and Ray Garrett Jr. Corporate and Securities Law Institute — despite firms cutting back on spending in those areas.
Résumé gap: No law degree.
Job one: Building out Northwestern's brand. "Nationally, we need to get the word out," she says.
Obstacle: Ms. Cecchi's effort to create partnerships between Northwestern and the legal industry could be premature as firms puzzle out their post-recession business model. But, in this job market, "schools are trying everything," says James Leipold, executive director of the Washington-based National Association for Law Placement. "They're reaching out to alumni, reaching out in the market and trying to start incubators."
The plan: Leverage resources, such as alumni and the career services center. Then, it's hitting the road to visit law firms and the judicial community.