On March 4, 2021, UCLI rolled out its pilot of the Utah Law Student Mentoring Program (ULSMP) for diverse law students with a kickoff Zoom event (recording found here). The main purpose of this program is to empower historically underrepresented students to thrive in the legal profession by connecting them with current attorneys as mentors. It is designed to build a sense of belonging in Utah’s legal community, to expose mentees to a wide range of career opportunities, and to help in developing the necessary professional skills to succeed in law school and beyond.
Based on “best practices” of student mentoring programs, we assign two attorney mentors to each law student. Mentor groups meet monthly in whichever format works best for them, creating a personalized plan from the program manual. Groups rotate every six months so as to expand our law students’ networks. The next “round” will begin at the beginning of the school year.
Thus far, our attorney volunteers have made themselves available and approachable, undergoing research-informed training and preparing themselves to the best of their ability. These efforts have paid off: as one of our enrolled law students wrote, “I have tried getting mentors with no real luck […] My mentors seem like they are very dedicated to their roles as mentors, and they seem like people I would normally be friends with. They’ve made it clear that no conversation is off the table. I love this. And I’m so grateful! I’m often envious of my classmates that have parents or other family members who are lawyers that can help them figure out this strange world […] I just wanted you to know how incredibly valuable this is to those of us who are embarking on this journey somewhat blindly.“
Moreover, 50 attorney mentors enrolled from 16 different firms and organizations, including Anderson & Karrenberg; Dorsey & Whitney; Fabian VanCott; Holland & Hart; Maschoff Brennan; McConkie Hales & Gunn; and Strong & Hanni. Also included are the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the Utah Attorney General’s Office, and the Juab County Attorney. We already have 16 additional attorneys from 12 firms and organizations–– including Pluralsight, Encircle, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office–– on queue for the second round.
We are looking forward to continuing to expand our program – we hope with your help!