Penn State graduate returns to campus to work for law school

After taking on the role of assistant dean for career services for Penn State Law on Sep. 19, Randolph Reliford said the last two months have “been a whirlwind.”

Reliford graduated from Penn State’s University Park campus in 2000.

“I’m excited to be back,” Reliford said. “I’m excited to have a position where I get to help people think critically about not only their value, but how they can make a difference in other people’s lives.”

In the 16 years between graduating from the Smeal College of Business in 2000 and returning to campus to work for Penn State Law, Reliford said he kept busy.

He worked at J.P. Morgan in Delaware before attending University of Wisconsin for law school. Once finished earning his law degree, Reliford worked in the commercial litigation group at law firm Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg in Philadelphia.

Eventually, he took on career development at University of San Diego and then held similar positions at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Whittier Law School before coming to Penn State.

Reliford said he finds it very fulfilling to work at Penn State Law at this time and it presents a unique opportunity.

“Penn State Law, especially related to University Park, is a very new thing, and that’s exciting,” Reliford said. “How often do you get to help to build a law school at a place you care about?”

Through serving as Penn State Law’s assistant dean for career services, Reliford said his responsibilities include five main things — developing relationships with law firms interested in hiring Penn State Law students, leading a team that coaches students in terms of their careers and career paths, assisting in running the career services office to meet students’ needs and potential employers’ needs, helping the law school’s other initiatives and running the career services office’s side of the process for collecting and reporting data to the American Bar Association.

“Every day, I can count on talking to a law student or talking to someone from our career development staff,” Reliford said. “But, by and large, there’s no one day that’s going to look like the next day.”

Earning a degree in finance and international business with a minor in economics, Reliford said his position allows him to incorporate a multitude of skills he learned while pursuing his undergraduate degree. He works with data to help make decisions for the office and enjoys the numbers aspect of the job.

As far as his vision for his job within Penn State Law, Reliford said he hopes to help people understand how to improve the lives of others by combining their “God-given talents” and their legal education.

“My goal is to get [students] in the position where they understand [how to improve others’ lives through their talents and education],” Reliford said. “That is the problem I feel like God put me here to help people solve.”

Reliford said his ability to reflect on “the process of growth in personal and professional development” since his time as a Penn State student, helps him relate to current students he may encounter in the career services office.

James Houck, interim dean for both the law school and the School of International Affairs, said he was very involved in hiring Reliford.

“[Reliford’s] got good experience in the career services area already based on the work he’s done at several other law schools,” Houck said. “He’s got a great personality and a lot of good ideas about how to help our students with their career choices, so I felt like he was the complete package.”

Penn State Law’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations Jeff Horwitz said he’s responsible for building and developing an alumni base, so he and Reliford often work closely in their day to day job tasks.

“[Reliford’s] been received with incredibly open arms — [alumni and some of the hiring offices Penn State Law interacts with are] very enthusiastic about his approach, his enthusiasm and his real desire to find the right match not only for the student but also for the employer,” Horwitz said.

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