Interviewed by Lauren Hirshon, Director of Consulting, Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania

YPN Member Spotlight April

Rich Slavin

Associate, Real Estate Department
Ballard Spahr LLP

Q: How did you decide to become an attorney and what aspects of your job do you enjoy most?

A legal career was on my radar when I matriculated as a freshman at Penn. I always knew that I wanted a job where I’d be intellectually challenged and where I’d never stop learning. Although I considered and took internships in a few other fields, ultimately, my legal internship with the Philadelphia DA’s office solidified my desire to go to law school.

Two aspects of my job I enjoy really are the constant learning and that two days in the office are never alike. As a real estate lawyer working on both deals and major development projects, I enjoy seeing the tangible outcomes of assisting our clients.

Q: What are your favorite things to do in Philadelphia outside of work?

Running on the Schuylkill River Trail, trying new restaurants and giving unsolicited historic and real estate development tours of the City to anyone who will listen.

Q. How did you first learn about YPN, and what was the deciding factor in becoming a member?

I have been an avid networker for a few years, and YPN provides an opportunity to meet a diverse and dynamic group of young professionals in Philadelphia. I especially love that YPN allows you to meet people across industries.

Q. Do you have a professional mentor? If so, tell us how having one benefits you.

I have many people I seek advice from for different things both inside my firm and in the larger legal and business community. I think it is also important to seek out mentoring relationships with people outside your industry. The entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I would amend that and say that professionally, you are the average of your mentors.

Q. How did you get involved in local politics? (I saw on your bio that you’re a local committee person for the 8th Ward – tell me more!)

I have casually followed local politics for many years. In early 2014 a friend told me that there was an opening in my division for committeeperson (there are two committeepeople for each division). Thinking ahead, I saw 2015 as a special opportunity to see the Mayor’s Race and City Council races early, and wanted to see what local campaigns look like many months before you read about it on I talked to the current committeeperson and other members of the Ward. I ran a small write-in campaign and won a seat.

I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet candidates and hear them speak to our group ahead of the May 19th election. My favorite part of being a committeeperson has been listening to the perspectives and questions of my fellow committee people, very few of whom are millennials or lawyers. In fact, many of them stuck it out when Center City was not as hip and livable as it is today and I admire all the effort they have put in to establish and grow our city’s neighborhoods.

Q. YPN’s professional development committee has developed a “PD bookshelf.” Are there any particular books you would recommend?

I bet a lot of the great ones have been taken, so I will pick something (hopefully) a bit different. Many of our career decisions are motivated by salary. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley advises that the key to financial freedom is saving more and spending less, not necessarily earning more. He details dozens of stories of those who never made six figures, but nevertheless saved and grew their money into a fortune. It is a good read, and really makes you think about how much salary should factor into job choice.