A mentor can contribute greatly to a law student's success. In order to foster mentor relationships between alumni and students, Washington & Lee University School of Law's Office of Career Planning and Professional Development is instituting an Alumni Mentoring Program. The program pairs alumni mentors with participating first-year law students in order to provide support and encouragement during the student's three years at W&L.
Role and Responsibilities of a Mentor
The outline below illustrates some of the areas in which an alumni mentor can assist his or her mentee. While a mentor is not expected to assist in all these areas, this is also not an exhaustive list. The outline is only a guide. The actual nature of the mentoring relationship will be up to the student and alumni pair to determine and develop individually as their schedules and interests allow.
Academic Support and Personal Development
Helping to choose courses that will assist the student in meeting career goals
Assistance with learning effective problem-solving skills
Assistance with identifying his or her strengths and areas of improvement
Encouragement with goal setting and achievement of those goals
Advising on career options
Discussing particular fields of interest
Sharing experiences of working in a particular field
Guiding and supporting through the process of:
- Researching internships, summer positions, and permanent positions with specific employers
- Choosing between employers to work for
- Crafting resumes and cover letters
The Matching Process
The matching process is designed so that students, to the extent possible, are paired with a mentor with similar geographic and practice area interests. First-year law students interested in participating in the program complete a Registration Form, which asks the student to fill out information regarding geographic and practice area goals. Alumni mentors then complete an Alumni Mentor Registration Form, which asks for information relating to the academic, career, and geographic area of that alum. OCP will review both registration forms and pair the students with a mentor that most closely aligns with their geographic and practice area interests. OCP will then send a copy of the completed student registration form and the student's resume to the alumni mentor.
Setting Expectations and Goals
Once a match has been confirmed, and contact information is sent to each participant, the student is responsible for contacting his/her mentor as soon as possible. Contact between the participants can be in the form of mailings, phone calls, e-mail, or personal meetings. At the start of the relationship, mentor and mentee are strongly encouraged to discuss issues related to the expectations and goals of the relationship.
Some possible questions for the mentor and mentee may ask each other in order to clarify expectations, set goals and create appropriate accompanying actions:
- What do you expect from this relationship?
- What are your career goals?
- How often would you like to communicate?
- How would you like to communicate (e.g., phone, email, face-to-face, etc.)
- Who should initiate the contact?
- Will each contact be planned ahead of time or can the student call the mentor unannounced?
- Are there any restrictions on times the student can call the mentor? (i.e. never after 6:00pm, never on weekends, only at work, never at work)
Problems with the Mentoring Relationship
We understand that a particular pairing may not end up being the best fit. If you wish to end the mentoring relationship, or if you are no longer able to participate in the alumni mentoring program, please notify Lauren Kozak (firstname.lastname@example.org or call (540) 458-8536) at the Office of Career Planning so that we can suggest possible solutions, and, if necessary, discontinue the relationship.
Sign-up Process for Alumni
If interested in serving as a mentor in the Alumni Mentoring Program, please complete a Registration Form. If you would like more information on the program, or if you have any questions, please contact Lauren Kozak.