September 11, 2014 Articles

JIOP Mentoring Program: Developing a New Generation of Lawyers

The program provides diverse students an opportunity to meet practicing attorneys and develop a mentoring relationship with them.

By Kelly Matayoshi

The JIOP Mentoring Program provides diverse students an opportunity to meet practicing attorneys and develop a mentoring relationship with them. These mentors provide support and guidance for the students’ judicial externship and beyond. Primarily, the mentors address questions or issues that arise during the judicial externship, making sure students have a successful experience and take advantage of all of its opportunities. In addition, mentors provide students with a chance to interact with and learn from practicing attorneys who were once JIOP students. Mentors can create real and sustained mentoring relationships with their students.

The Mentoring Circles are the heart of the JIOP Mentoring Program. Mentors lead a group of students and meet several times during the summer, where students can discuss issues and questions relating to their judicial externship or other topics of interest. Mentoring Circles allow students to learn from and talk to their mentor and each other.

In addition to meeting in smaller Mentoring Circles, mentors and students meet as a large group.  This can take many formats, and it is up to the mentors to decide what works best. The events can be something as simple as a happy hour at a nearby bar or restaurant, but they can also include speakers, a networking aspect, or anything else that may appeal to the students.

An important yet difficult skill for law students is networking. Mentors invite students to attend events with them and keep them informed of other local legal events. Mentors also offer to review resumes, conduct mock interviews, and put students in touch with lawyers who share their interests.

Q&A With Mentors and Mentees

Catherine Ngo, JIOP 2010, Mentor in San Francisco

What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
Mentoring connects me with new students who are eager to become attorneys and helps me stay connected with the colleagues that I mentor with. I enjoy meeting students who are enthusiastic about learning and about the practice of law. 

Why is mentoring important to you?
Mentoring is important because navigating the legal profession as a new lawyer can be difficult without guidance. When I started law school, I didn’t know anyone in my immediate circle who was an attorney. Since then, I’ve been thankful to find mentors at work and in my professional circle. As a mentor, I hope that I can provide that personal perspective to a student to make the idea of starting a legal career less daunting. Specifically as to JIOP, I strongly believe in the purpose of the program as it is important to provide opportunities for diversity in the profession. The students come from such different backgrounds and have the potential to make a meaningful contribution in the law. 

What was your favorite mentoring event this summer?
My favorite mentoring events this summer are the informal meetings I have with my students. I enjoy meeting with them one-on-one and hearing about their law school goals because I remember being in those same shoes not too long ago.

 

Shirley Kim, Mentee in San Francisco

How has the mentoring program helped you?
As a law student attending school in southern California, I have seen the JIOP Mentoring program play a significant role during my summer externship experience. From organizing regular check-ins to graciously offering time to discuss the on-campus interview process, the JIOP mentors offer an incredible support network.

What type of events did you attend as part of the mentoring program?
I attended workshops hosted by Farella Braun + Martel and Arnold & Porter. These workshops provided a great opportunity to network with other law students, partners, and recruiters. Additionally, they provided a safe environment to ask questions about the recruiting process and what employers are seeking for their summer associate positions.

What was your favorite part of the mentoring program?
My favorite part of the mentoring program was meeting associates and JIOP alumni who were once in my position and learning about their experiences.

 

Gus Schneider, JIOP 2007, Mentor in Arizona

Why is mentoring important to you?
I’ve received excellent mentoring and it has really helped my career. I’m looking to pay it forward. Law school may teach you to think like a lawyer, but you’ll ultimately learn the art and business of lawyering from other lawyers. You go at it alone at your peril.

 

Jennifer Najjar, Mentee in Arizona

How has the mentoring program helped you?
The JIOP mentoring program served as an excellent bridge between law school and the practice of law. During my externship in Judge Murguia's chambers I was exposed to a wide array of legal issues, which helped me figure out what area of the law I would like to pursue in my career. Moreover, I was mentored by some amazing individuals. Even though Judge Murguia is very busy, she took the time to take me to lunch and offered excellent legal advice for a rising 2L. Moreover, the clerks and the JA also served as great mentors. They took the time to review each piece of work I submitted and were always offering their guidance. Overall I met some great individuals and learned more than I had during my entire first year of law school.

What type of events did you attend as part of the mentoring program?
I attended a number of events hosted by JIOP. Many of these events were at law firms in the local community. These events provided a great platform to connect with local attorneys as well as others participating in the JIOP program.

My favorite JIOP event was not a formal event. My professional mentor, William Knight, was kind enough to take me to lunch during the middle of his trial! It was incredibly meaningful for such a busy attorney to take the time to meet with me. Not only did we discuss interesting legal issues, Mr. Knight offered to help me strategically map out what I want to gain from a legal career. While it was interesting meeting the large number of attorneys interested in the JIOP program, it was a unique experience to hear Mr. Knight's perspective and get his advice as a former JIOP extern himself.

What was your favorite part of the mentoring program?
My favorite part of the mentoring program was the externship. Both Judge Murguia and her four law clerks were committed to aiding in my legal development. I learned more in six weeks than my entire first year of law school. I hope to clerk one day as a direct result of my JIOP experience.

 

William Knight, JIOP 2011, Mentor in Arizona

What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
If the best way to learn something is to teach it, I’ve loved mentoring because it galvanized a lot about professional development and networking that I hadn’t thought about in some time. In teaching the JIOP interns the benefit of putting themselves out there, I remembered that I needed to take some time away from my practice and get back out there myself.

Why is mentoring important to you?
Mentoring is important, particularly with diversity pipeline programs like JIOP, because many diverse students face socioeconomic hurdles that others do not, and having a good mentor can mean the difference between feeling like an outsider trying to break into the profession and gaining the confidence to accept that you’ve earned a seat at the table. As the YLD’s liaison to the ABA’s Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, I feel like it is our responsibility as diverse leaders to help other diverse, young professionals along the path to success.

What was your favorite mentoring event this summer?
My favorite event was the mentoring circle, because it gave mentors and mentees a chance to talk about the real difficulties they are facing with their placements and job hunts. It enabled mentors to really connect with their mentees, and it fostered solidarity among the interns as they realized that other people were facing (or had faced) similar obstacles. Together we were able to help each other find solutions to issues as wide ranging as how to break into a niche practice area and how to make a personal connection in a chamber filled with colleagues from very different backgrounds.

 

Marcos Tapia, JIOP 2013, Mentor in Arizona

What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
I have enjoyed all the questions asked by the mentees. They have been motivated and their energy and enthusiasm makes it easy to want to help. Being able to talk the pros and cons about various aspects of being an intern and even for navigating through law school has been rewarding. The hope is that I have given them something new to think about so they make informed decisions throughout their time at their placements and going forward in law school.

Why is mentoring important to you?
Mentoring is important because I have personally seen and experienced the benefits that great mentoring can provide. I attribute many of my successes to my mentors and that makes me eager to pass it forward to those individuals that seek to reach their personal goals. If there is a chance I can contribute in a positive manner to their success, like my mentors did for me, then I think being a mentor and providing what I can is very rewarding.

What was your favorite mentoring event this summer?
This summer I enjoyed the luncheon at Aiken Schenk because the mentees were able to express their questions and goals and we were able to have an open discussion where we brainstormed how we, as mentors, could help them specifically achieve their goals.

 

Kwan Piensook, JIOP 2011, Mentor in Arizona

What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
I have really enjoyed getting to know my mentees. They are both enthusiastic about their futures in law and have shown a sincere interest in getting the most out of their JIOP experiences.

Why is mentoring important to you?
I have enjoyed mentoring because it allows me to give back to the JIOP program. I hope that by being a mentor, I can be an accessible resource to a student—answering questions about the program, law school, and legal practice now and into the future. When I participated in the program, I had wonderful mentors and I hope to offer the same kind of support that I had received.

What was your favorite mentoring event this summer?
I enjoyed the mentoring circle. The format was small and informal, and I was able to hear from the students about how they were enjoying the program. 

 

Aaron V. Gleaton, JIOP 2011, Mentor in Washington, D.C.

What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
I have really enjoyed getting to know my mentee and spending time with her one-on-one to discuss her summer internship experience, law school, and career goals. My mentee has been genuinely engaged during the entire process, making this a very rewarding and productive experience for us both. I am lucky to have had the privilege of working with such a great student, and I look forward to keeping in touch with her for years to come.

Why is mentoring important to you?
As a JIOP alum, I believe it is important to give back to the organization that gave me valuable opportunities during law school. Through JIOP and a number of mentors along the way, I received quality mentorship, which led me to a federal clerkship and eventually to practice, and mentoring is a way for me to give back.  I also think that it is important for diverse students to establish relationships with diverse mentors in practice.

What was your favorite mentoring event this summer?
I really enjoyed the D.C. orientation and reception. The event included several panel discussions on a variety of topics, including careers and professional development, and concluded with a networking reception attended by JIOP alumni practicing in the D.C. area. 

 

Mehreen Rasheed, Mentee in D.C.

How has the mentoring program helped you?
The mentoring program has given me the opportunity to connect with a practitioner who has recently been through the program. As a JIOP alum, my mentor has unique insights into how I can make the most of my summer internship and has been able to give specific suggestions. In addition to his support throughout my internship, my mentor has given me valuable advice about school and careers.

What type of events did you attend as part of the mentoring program?
I attended the JIOP orientation, which gave me the chance to meet practitioners from many different backgrounds who spoke on clerkships, interviews, and other aspects of professional development.

What was your favorite part of the mentoring program?
I truly appreciated the open and welcoming atmosphere of the mentoring program. My mentor and the other JIOP alumni I met are accessible, approachable, and candid.

 

Zara Najam, JIOP 2010, Mentor in Dallas

What have you enjoyed most about being a mentor?
Meeting law students with different personalities and from all walks of life. There is so much to be learned from different people's experiences in life and for me, mentoring is not limited to providing legal advice. I like to get to know my mentees as people first, law students second.

Why is mentoring important to you?
While I was in law school, I truly appreciated the insight my mentors provided about the legal profession. It helped set my expectations as I graduated from law school and gave me a network of people that I still reach out to for legal advice. I was lucky enough to have mentors that showed me the importance of one-on-one interactions with experienced attorneys, and I want to play my part and reach out to law students in hopes of helping them by sharing my experiences.

What was your favorite mentoring event this summer?
I enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet all the JIOP students at the Dallas JIOP reception, but my favorite JIOP event was my one-on-one meetings with my mentees. I took my mentees to a CLE on tips for young lawyers followed by lunch, where we got to chat about personal and professional goals.

 


 

Copyright © 2014, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).