Robbins Is Schooled for Law
When asked about why he chose to enter the field of school law, Todd Robbins said he received sage career advising from one of his professors at Chapman University School of Law: work in a field in which you have real-world experience.
Thus Robbins, who majored in secondary education and spent two years teaching history at Leavitt Area High School in Turner, chose to move from theory to practice—legal practice, that is, with the California school-law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud, and Romo. Based near his home in Riverside, Calif., Robbins represents large school districts (some comprising as many as 20,000 students) in legal matters ranging from the negotiation of teacher contracts to student disciplinary issues. For Robbins, having been a teacher gives him a clear-eyed perspective on—and capital with—his clients.
“I’ve found that my supervising partners introduce me to my clients this way: ‘Todd’s coming to see you and he’s a former teacher,’” Robbins said. “Having that experience helps build trust. I know the jargon and the issues of what No Child Left Behind means for teaching. My familiarity with the profession puts me in a position to give better advice.”
While his entrée to law school (mastering the minutiae of contract law) had him questioning the wisdom of leaving the classroom for the courtroom, Robbins said his academic preparation at UMF helped him, “survive and acclimate faster to the rigors of law school.”
“The assignments and expectations helped me learn I could do challenging things and do them well,” said Robbins. “And my teacher training helped me look at issues holistically, rather than narrowly focusing on finding only one right answer. That’s critical to learning how to think analytically, like a lawyer.”
Robbins may now have a head for law, but with wife Melinda Robbins (also a UMF graduate) teaching English at Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., it’s safe to say his heart remains in education.
“Going to law school was always a thought in the back of my mind. I wanted to find some way outside the front line to help schools enhance the learning experience,” he said. “Education is going to be our life.”