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September 01, 2010

September 2010: Rachael Langston, Esq.

Young attorney with congenital disability develops craft as a mentor and a mentee.

There are several important benefits for lawyers and law students who enter into mentoring relationships. Aside from the obvious advice for students on how to make the most out of a legal education or the valuable networking opportunities, some relationships develop special aspects that can help not only the mentee but the mentor as well. Rachael Langston, Esq., a young attorney who is both a mentor and mentee, appreciates these finer aspects of her relationships.

Rachael was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, a congenital disability. She is a leg amputee who uses forearm crutches and a scooter for mobility. She also has scoliosis and is of short-stature. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and received the prestigious two-year Skadden Fellowship. With this Fellowship she is charged with advocating for the enforcement of “existing reasonable accommodation legislation through community education and litigation” and the expansion of “the definition of ‘reasonable accommodation’ to include individuals with caretaking responsibility such as parents with disabled children.”

Yet as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center of San Francisco (“LAS – ELC”), Rachael does much more. She ensures that workers with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations, performs coalition-building to protect the rights of workers with disabilities, and educates workers with disabilities about their rights. At the LAS - ELC Rachael has been fortunate to have excellent mentors for her first two years as an attorney. “Not only have they taught me the ‘nuts and bolts’ of our profession,” she reflected, “but they also told me what to expect in our field and how to handle a variety of difficult situations that may arise.” 

In addition to learning from the more experienced attorneys at her organization, Rachael also gains insight from her mentees. She has supervised law students who clerked at the LAS - ELC. “The opportunity to be a mentor often helps me to strengthen my own knowledge of the law and my area of practice,” she said. Additionally, her status as a young attorney enables her to relate well with the law clerks and make the most out of her relationships. “As an attorney who graduated law school relatively recently, I know what these law students are going through,” she stated. “I try to not only help them understand how to be an effective disability advocate, but also talk to them about my experiences as a young attorney in this field. I’m fortunate to have a career that I love, and I hope to help others with this passion to pursue it.”