New Director of Career Planning Center Plans to Build Students’ Trust

By Madiha Malik

On February 13, 2015, UConn Law welcomed James (Jim) Ray ‘92, as the new Director of the Law School’s Career Planning Center (CPC). A former partner at Robinson & Cole, Ray is also a three time Husky, having received his Bachelor’s degree, MBA, and J.D. from UConn schools. While at Robinson & Cole, Ray was involved in the firm’s Hiring Committee and Diversity Committee and plans to bring his previous experience to his position at the Law School.

Assistant Dean of Students, Karen DeMeola, praised Ray as the “perfect candidate,” describing him as an “intelligent, strategic thinker with deep experience in practice and a passion for diversity.” According to DeMeola, Ray “brings extensive experience counseling students and young lawyers and will provide opportunities that give students the tools they need to be successful.”

Speaking to his goals in his new role, Ray’s short term goals include immersing himself in the law school community and getting to know as many students, staff, and faculty members as possible. Ray’s long-term goals include ensuring that students view the CPC as a valuable resource.

“Our role as a Career Planning Center is to help students establish the relationships that will position them for long-term success in the job market, whether it’s their first opportunity or even creating relationships that could lead to opportunities down the road,” said Ray.

Ray says the biggest challenge for the CPC is to build trust among students. Acknowledging the CPC’s recent short staffing with the departure of the former Director, Aimee Houghton, who left in August 2014 to become Assistant Dean for Graduate Students at Cornell Law School, Ray said the staff has done a good job of “keeping things afloat.”

While Ray admits there is no quick fix, he plans to start building a relationship with the student body by being visible on campus and encouraging input from students and student organizations. “We welcome the opportunity to get the feedback. [Students] are the primary stakeholders in the community and who we want to serve,” said Ray.

Some ideas that the CPC has considered include brown bag lunches and sessions where students can speak with practitioners and start building relationships, which Ray believes is integral to success in law school and after.

“I still view the responsibility of finding a job to be the student’s responsibility. Our job is to make sure that they have all the tools and provide the student body with as many opportunities as we can to ensure that they are successful in that search,” said Ray.

Ray’s advice to students is to take advantage of the opportunities provided, engage in the community, and be persistent. “It’s never too soon to start building relationships in the legal community,” said Ray. According to Ray, long-term relationships are important as a practicing attorney as well with regards to future career opportunities and client relationships. While students must foster these relationships, Ray’s goal is to make connections and increase the number opportunities available, and show students that the CPC is working hard to support them.