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Passion for Practice

Nancy Shane Rappaport

A Villanova Law education and the School’s alumni network gave Nancy Shane Rappaport ’95 a strong foundation for success. After 20 years as a product liability attorney, Rappaport was recently named Chair of DLA Piper’s Philadelphia Litigation Practice. It’s an appointment made possible through passion, hard work and the mentorship of a fellow Villanova Lawyer.

As a student, Rappaport enjoyed torts and product liability and tapped into her passion for litigation early. She participated in Reimels Moot Court Competition, the national privacy moot court competition, and Villanova Law Review—giving her the experiential learning she needed to set her up for success.

“Judge Gafni’s trial practice course definitely prepared me and got me real hands-on litigation experience,” Rappaport said. And her legal writing professors taught her not only how to analyze a case, but how to apply it to different factual scenarios.

“The legal writing that comes from Villanova grads is second to none,” she continued. “You need to learn how to write persuasively as an attorney and to think outside the box. I learned these skills at Villanova.”

In her new role at DLA Piper, Rappaport is recruiting new associates, working with her partners on managing the associates’ workload and training them in both soft and hard skills, all while carrying her own full caseload.

“My favorite part of being the head of litigation is working with people—I’m a people person,” she remarked. “When people come to me with problems, we can work together to come up with solutions.”

Working with young lawyers comes naturally to Rappaport, whose own career benefited from the guidance and support of a great mentor. She landed her first job at Morris James LLP in Delaware, having been hired into the corporate department.  She immediately worked her way into the litigation department and tried a case at the end of her first year. Shortly thereafter, she joined DLA Piper’s litigation practice—where she met fellow alum James Brogan ’81, now Partner and Co-Chair of the firm’s US Litigation Group.

“Mentors and champions are essential to developing your own career path,” said Rappaport. “A mentor is someone you can go to who can counsel you on your career path. A champion is someone who is going to grab your hand and bring you along, introduce you to influential people both within and outside the firm, and be your advocate in partner and committee meetings, proactively pushing you toward bigger and better things for your career. You must earn that person’s respect and nurture that relationship. Jim Brogan has been my mentor and my champion.”

Rappaport emphasizes that developing relationships is paramount and found that her own alumni relationships have been integral to her success.

“No matter how good of a lawyer you are, if you don’t have a champion, it makes that path particularly difficult,” said Rappaport “I feel like I owe a lot to Jim’s connection and the skills I learned at Villanova. I have always had a passion for the practice of law, and Jim has given me guidance on developing my practice and making the most of my career.”

For more information on Villanova Law’s litigation and trial advocacy opportunities, click here.