Each year, PDO collaborates with numerous practicing attorneys to stage an Attorney-Student Mentoring Program. Through it, students are assigned individual attorney mentors from leading Utah law firms, corporations and public agencies—and some attorneys who are outside of Utah. This program is made possible with the help of Attorney-Directors Heidi Goebel of Christensen & Jensen and Angelina Tsu of Zions Management Services Corp.
For new 1L’s and others who have never had an attorney-mentor assigned: If you want to participate, read this article thoroughly to see if you think you can meet your responsibilities in the Program. If so, as soon as possible, you must fill out a student questionnaire. A link to this questionnaire is included in the Program Kickoff Social section below. By about the first of October, the Program’s Attorney-Directors will use the information you provide to pair attorney-volunteers with students.
If you have had a mentor assigned in the past: See if your mentor is willing to continue to mentor you before you sign up for a new mentor, as a matter of basic professional courtesy. (Of course, please do not criticize or be unprofessional with your mentor when you contact them. Take them for what they are able to offer and be open to the idea of continuing with them if they are willing.) There is a limited universe of attorneys who sign up for this program. If you sign up to get a new mentor, PDO will need to prioritize matches for those who have not participated in the Program before.
The Program’s Nuts and Bolts: In the fall, the Program’s Attorney Directors match students with an attorney mentor, roughly based on backgrounds and interests. Bear in mind you will not always get someone who matches your precise career goals—and that is OK! Your goals may change, but even if they don’t, these attorneys will be there to help with school, networking, and other things that don’t depend on whether you both want to practice in the same area.
The involvement which takes place after that primarily depends on your efforts and the mentor’s schedule. At a minimum, the mentor/mentee pairs should meet at least one time in person (such as for lunch or coffee) but can meet more often if they choose (such as once or twice a semester). The pairs should also be open to communication via email and phone calls. The program kicks off August 17 with an evening social geared towards 1L’s and new mentees (see below), and in spring semester, there may be a social or a service project to bring students and attorneys together. Last spring, some mentor pairs volunteered with members of the S.J. Quinney Young Alumni Organization for a morning service project at a Head Start facility in Salt Lake.
Program Kickoff Social: On Wednesday, August 17, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m., PDO will sponsor a Program Kickoff Social at Gracie’s www.graciesslc.com . Appetizers will be provided, and there will be a cash bar. Both students who want to be in the Program (and have filled out a questionnaire) and attorney mentors are invited to attend. (Mentor-mentee matches will not be made at this time—this is an event for you to meet several attorneys, not pair off with your mentor). New 1L’s who have RSVP’d and filled out a questionnaire will have priority attendance. Space is limited. Please RSVP no later than Monday, August 15 at noon. That afternoon, PDO will let all who have RSVP’d and filled out their questionnaire whether they are able to attend, or if they are on a waitlist. (Keep in mind, even if you don’t attend this social, Bar Review will take place at Gracie’s right after our event, and several attorneys will linger.) To RSVP for the Social (Yes or No) and apply for the Program, click here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?hl=en_US&formkey=dERSdDdYd0dKeElmYVdmRGZPVnpzcnc6MQ#gid=0 .
Your Responsibilities as a Student-Mentee: Read these expectations thoroughly—they are few, but they are important. If you fail to comply with them, your attorney mentor may be reassigned. We do this only because it is bad for our reputation as a school to have students fail to comply with them, and also wastes a willing attorney mentor.
1. Contact your attorney mentor promptly when you are matched to say hello and set up a meeting. You will get your match contact information via email. Once you do, it is on you to email or call your mentor immediately to set up an initial meeting—lunch, coffee, an in-office meeting. You need to be willing to do this, or the Program may not be for you. Talk to PDO if you are timid—we are here to help!
2. Respond promptly to communications from your mentor. Do not work for three weeks to draft a perfect email response to an invitation for lunch. Respond immediately—even if the answer is “I can’t meet for awhile due to my classes—would November 3, 6 or 10 work?”
3. Act as a professional with your mentor. Take them for what they have to offer. At the very least, you will be able to get their perspective on law school, the use of a J.D., their own practice, and others in the community where they practice. Learn from them and what they do—in general, these are folks who love to help. They will be your professional colleagues in just a few years.
4. Respond to PDO questions/surveys about the Program. PDO will survey you late in fall semester about your contact with your mentor, and will do the same with mentors. If you haven’t made efforts to set up a meeting or haven’t responded to your mentor’s communication, you risk having your mentor reassigned.
5. Let PDO know if there are problems! If your mentor isn’t responding to your communications, try calling rather than email. If that still doesn’t work, let PDO know. We will help you get through or get another mentor. Don’t wait until the end of the school year to keep us in the loop.