Crafting a Successful Career Plan: An Interview with Ana Bierman
Ana Bierman, Director of Career Planning and Placement (right)
Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am very proud to have been selected director of the Career Planning and Placement Office (CP&P).  I enjoy working with young lawyers and law students, and have over 7 years of experience advising students and attorneys about their career paths.  I opened the Miami office of a national attorney search firm — working as a legal recruiter gave me an inside look at the legal hiring process – knowledge that I think will be very useful to me in my new position.

Prior to joining the CP&P I taught in FIU Law’s LSV program for a year. I also taught legal research and writing at another law school for several years — helping students succeed professionally and academically brings me great satisfaction.  I graduated from Penn Law, and received a BA from Cornell. Following law school I worked in the corporate securities department of an international law firm, and at a major high tech firm.

My husband Mitch – an attorney – and I are the happy parents of 2 school age kids –we also consider ourselves the parents of our two dogs! My family loves living in Miami, and we think that community service is very important. My husband and I serve on several not-for-profit boards, and we stay involved in causes that are close to our hearts.

What are the most pressing challenges facing CP&P, and how do you intend to deal with these challenges?

Among our challenges is making sure that FIU Law and its students are front and center in the minds of prospective employers.  Our goal is to develop and maintain strong relationships with private and public sector employers. To do this we are increasing our outreach to employers – we are visiting their offices and bringing them to campus to see the excellent caliber of our students and the excellent training and education that they are receiving at FIU.

During the academic year we will invite many employers to participate in various formal and informal programs hosted by our office.  We hope to provide students with many opportunities to make meaningful contacts that will serve them as they plan their professional life.

Can you discuss what we should expect from the CP&P for the 2012-2013 school year?

I think that successful career planning begins early in law school, and I know that crafting a meaningful career takes a great deal of effort. I’d like students to consider us their partner – we pledge to provide the assistance needed to help them succeed.

My goal is to better prepare students for the job search – one step we are taking is creating the best materials and programming possible. We’ve revised the CP&P’s Professional Development Handbook, which now contains a wealth of new information and useful links. We downloaded the Handbook into a thumb drive which we distributed to all incoming students – this will give students quick access to loads of great information.

I am also keen on enhancing student’s knowledge of various practice areas, and I am very excited to announce that several FIU Law faculty members will serve as advisors to the CP&P. Professors Fingerhut, Ortega-Friedman, Gomez and Klion are all experienced lawyers who will advise students on the realities of working in a particular area of law. This addition will allow students increased access to networks that complement our services.

How has the economic downturn and recent national controversy over job placement statistics changed your approach to advising students? What would you say to a student concerned about the decreasing number of jobs?

Our class of 2011 employment statistics show that FIU grads are finding meaningful employment, but I am very aware that landing that first legal job takes tremendous effort and time.  I’ve found that students who take advantage of FIU’s externship program and student clinics are very competitive in the marketplace. Our clinics provide students with real world experience in areas including community business development, immigration and human rights, and juvenile justice.  Entering the work-force with practical experience gives students a definite advantage.

I also encourage students to learn about a wide range of practice areas – there are niche areas like healthcare and intellectual property law — that continue to be in high demand and which may be a good fit for some.  I think that it is very important for students to keep an open mind about pursuing paths that they didn’t initially consider – paths that may lead them to positions in business, government service or public interest work.

Finally, it is very important for students to adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards. Students’ begin to develop their professional reputation while in law school and they must always strive to meet the high level of professionalism established by the profession.

What attributes do you think set FIU apart from other law schools?

I think that FIU Law’s class size is key to the nature of the school. FIU Law students will know the majority of their classmates by the end of their first year here. I am confident that this familiarity will create professional connections that will serve students and alumni throughout their careers. The size of the school also allows students to connect with faculty and staff, who can mentor and help students begin to develop their professional networks.

The law school’s diversity – which is reflected in the student body, the faculty and the staff  — is one of FIU law’s greatest strengths. This diversity creates a unique environment in which to learn how to be an excellent lawyer. Students benefit from being part of discussions that include a variety of perspectives.  Finally, as a public institution, FIU provide access to the highest quality legal education, at a cost that makes sense to a wide range of students.

—Ruben Rivero


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