A Conversation With: Eden MandrellDirector, career development office, Widener University Commonwealth Law School
Eden Mandrell, 46, was named director of the Widener University Commonwealth Law School's career development office on June 12.
Before joining Widener, she was a partner with Major, Lindsey and Africa, a global legal search firm, and principal at ELM Legal Search LLC. She also served on the advisory board of the Women in Law Empowerment Foundation.
Mandrell has a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in humanities from the University of Arizona. She earned her law degree from California Western School of Law.
She lives in Manheim Township with her husband and three children.
Q: You’re coming from a global legal search firm. What led you to shift into the education segment of the legal field?
A: I came out of law school not 100 percent sure I wanted to practice law. I did a stint with a family law practitioner and worked briefly at the district attorney’s office in San Diego. Then I was offered a non-practicing position with a bar review prep class. My husband and I moved to Chicago in 1998, and I came across a legal recruiting position and thought, this is a perfect blend of my legal and sales background. I started recruiting and loved it, I enjoyed getting to know my candidates and clients.
I thought getting into higher education would be a good use of my perspective on what it’s like to practice throughout your career. I’ve recruited at the associate level, the partner level, in-house counsel, and I’ve seen the evolution of attorneys’ careers. I’d had the opportunity to speak at a couple different law schools and really enjoyed my interactions with the students and thought there was value I could add as they were embarking on their careers.
What skills will you be helping students develop that will help them find employment and succeed in their careers?
You can look at basic skills like resume review and cover letter drafting. I’m also working with them on presentation, interview and networking skills. I’m trying to get them to understand you’re not just a person on a piece of paper, you’re a whole person. You have a lot of people around you who want to see you succeed and help develop you. My job is to get them positioned best for entering the job market. Our goal is continuing to work with students after graduation if they have specific needs in terms of employment searches.
How have you helped promote diversity in the legal profession through your work with the Women in Law Empowerment Foundation?
We put on a variety of networking events, a lot of presentations geared toward young female partners. I really enjoyed working with women and diverse candidates throughout my career, especially women who were transitioning back to the job market after having been on the mommy track for a while.
This profession has changed so much in the past 20, 25 years in terms of being more accepting of not just your stereotype of what a lawyer should look or act like. The way the world has evolved, there’s lawyers needed in so many different spaces. When we promote gender and diversity in the workplace, we are able to service groups of people who might otherwise be ignored.
What is your favorite movie involving lawyers?
“My Cousin Vinny” is pretty good. I think the message is you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. There’s different ways to get to the result; there’s different ways to be effective as a lawyer.