Ann Rakoff, executive director of the Corporate Law Center
Ann Rakoff, executive director of the Corporate Law Center
Photo by Patrick Verel

Who she is
Since 2006 she has  been the executive director of the Corporate Law Center at the Fordham School of Law.

What she does
Rakoff oversees the operations of the center, which began in 2001 as a think tank for research in business and financial law. The center hosts public lectures, roundtable discussions, expert panels, and academic symposia. This past year, the center organized more than 35 programs.

“I try to think about what’s happening now that, in six months from now, will still be a hot topic for a speaker or panel or roundtable program. Ideally they’ll be ideas that might mesh with the academic research going on within the business law faculty, because we want to support their scholarly research and writing.”

Favorite Part of the Job
“I love working with the students. With how much it costs to attend law school and the vicissitudes of the market, I really enjoy working with students who want to make a difference in corporate and business law. I also love helping the center grow and its ability to influence the corporate and financial worlds. This is a very exciting time, as we’re involved with many projects—in particular, our role in the development of the Compliance Initiatives at the Law School.”

Life Before Fordham
Rakoff grew up in the Hyde Park section of Chicago, and attended college in Boston before earning a doctorate in child development and special education at Columbia University. She spent 20 years raising a family in Larchmont, New York, and doing volunteer work in the community before returning to the workforce full-time. She served as president of the local school’s parents association, was an assistant soccer coach, a Girl Scout leader, chair of publicity for the local League of Women Voters, and active at her temple. She earned a graduate certificate in nonprofit leadership at Manhattanville College shortly before coming to Fordham Law.

Returning to the Workforce after Raising a Family
“Because my daughters were in college and I was finishing graduate school, I was very ready to hang my hat somewhere in the workplace. While I loved being a stay-at-home parent, I’d felt very fortunate to be able to get out and give back to the community and the schools.
“Going back to work took a little bit of learning about commuting, but to me, there’s nothing more exciting than being part of an academic institution. I love the life, the pace, the ideas, and the people.”

Hobbies and Family
Ann and her husband Jed Rakoff, a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, have been married for 40 years. They have three daughters—Jena, Elana, and Keira, and one grandson, Jonah. In 2009, in anticipation of Jena’s wedding, Rakoff informed her husband that she wanted to take ballroom dancing lessons.

“I said ‘I’m just going to take a few dance lessons because I don’t want to embarrass myself on the dance floor. You can come with me or not, as the spirit moves you.’ Sort of grumbling, he went, and we’ve been going two to three times a week ever since,” she said.

“Right now we’re working on the Argentine tango. I’m very happy when I can remember the steps, because it can be a little complicated. In Argentine tango in particular, the woman does most of the footwork. But the man is her support. We enjoy it; spending time together learning something new and meeting new people, it’s a lot of fun.”

—Patrick Verel


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.