Things I Wish I Knew, Vol. 15: Mentors are basically life’s “Google Search” feature

“Mom, Dad, why don’t you just Google it?”

It’s a phrase I must have said a million times in my short 23 years. The basic premise there is that someone out there in the big wide world has had the same question, and there is always someone who knows more than you who has the answer.

Okay, but it’s one thing entirely to ask Google why a certain word you misspelled in a  text once has suddenly become your phones default spelling, and another entirely to ask how to navigate law school or find a job doing what you want with the salary and work-life balance you want given all of your specific life experiences.

That’s where mentorship comes in. And in a lot of ways, it’s even better than a Google search.

Me and Dr. Sjo

Dr. Sjoberg and I after we found out our team would be going to Nationals for the first time

Google could help me find the federal rules of evidence, but it couldn’t take me to the undergraduate mock trial championship the way my former coach BC Law alumna Dr. Laura Sjoberg did, and it certainly couldn’t hook me up with a copyediting job to help offset the cost of law school when one became available on the international journal she edits. Google could tell me what summer jobs were available for 1Ls, but it couldn’t encourage me to apply and write me a recommendation letter the way my 1L legal writing professor Joan Blum did, nor could it help me celebrate the job offer that came out of it. It could tell me the steep cost of a bar prep class (yikes), but it couldn’t help me get a job as a BARBRI representative to earn a free bar review course when I graduated like my BLSA (Black Law Students Association) mentor Tai Sturdivant did. And while I’m sure Google could have come up with a number of options for what to do for the 12 hours I was essentially homeless between needing to be out of my sublease at midnight on August 31 and being able to pick up my keys at noon on September 1, it definitely wouldn’t have put me and all my earthly possessions up for the night the way my LSA (Law Students Association) mentor and long-time college friend Jesse Hornberger did.

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A note my mentor Jesse Hornberger left on my car that greeted me after my property practice exam last year

Mentorship is something BC Law prides itself on.  Whether you need someone with shared past experiences (be it going straight through from undergrad, being married, having served in the armed forces, etc.), or someone doing what you envision for your future, or just someone who’s been around longer than you who’ll show you around or wish you luck when you’re stressing about 1L practice exams or take you candlepin bowling to let off some steam, we offer tons of formal and informal opportunities to be matched with someone who’ll look out for you. Not to mention the chance to get to know your professors and learn from them both inside and outside of the classroom. And the best part is that these relationships can continue for a long as you want or need. From my professors to my peers to the practitioners I’ve met, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have made it this far without my mentors, and I try my best to pay it forward.

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My mentee Colleen Ciszek and I unintentionally matching on a mentor-mentee date for pizza and candlepin bowling in Somerville

Don’t believe me? Two other Impact bloggers you know and love, Zain Ahmad and Rob Rossi, shared some of their experiences with mentorship at BC Law. Check it out below!

mentor

Zain and Nirav pause for a classy photo at Law Prom 2015

My SALSA [South Asian Law Students Association] mentor is Nirav Bhatt (Class of 2016). He’s provided great advice since the start of my first-year in law school. He’s helped me prepare for my first-year final exams, prepare for 1L summer internships, and guided me through the OCI process. Despite his busy schedule as the President of LSA and TA for Civil Procedure, he always found the time to respond to my numerous questions about law school (everything from picking classes to deciding on which direction I’ll be taking my legal career in). Nirav’s mentorship has truly enabled me to do well in law school.

Zain Ahmad is a 2L at BC Law. Feel free to contact him with questions about his experience, BC Law, or law school in general. Comment here or send him an e-mail at ahmadz@bc.edu. 

 —

 When I was a senior at Boston College living in the Mods, my Resident Assistant was a second-year BC Law student named Matt. Once Matt found out that I wanted to go to law school, he started to give me tips me about taking the LSAT and preparing the personal statement portion of my application.In October, Matt and a few other RAs organized a panel discussion about applying to law school, which took place in one of the residence halls. They invited BC Law’s Associate Dean Tracy West to speak and answer questions from the college kids in attendance. After hearing what Dean West had to say, I decided that I wanted to go to law school in Boston – especially at BC Law, if the school would have me.

By the end of 2012 I found out my LSAT score and submitted my application to BC. When I returned to campus for spring semester, Matt offered to let me sit in on his classes, see the types of assignments he worked on each night, and walk me through the process that led him to an associate position at a large law firm in Boston. More importantly, he showed me that he genuinely seemed to enjoy his law school experience.

Rob's acceptance email

Rob’s acceptance to BC Law

In April, my acceptance email came from BC Law, and I was ecstatic. A few days later, I received a voicemail from the Dean’s Office asking me to call at my earliest convenience. Confused and nervous, I stepped out into my backyard and hit “call back.” It was Dean Rita Jones Simpson who answered, and in a much warmer tone than I’d expected, said that based on my application, I’d been selected to receive a newly endowed scholarship that would cover the entirety of my tuition for all three years at BC Law. I was still sitting dumbfounded in the backyard of my Mod when my roommate told me that Matt was at our front door.Matt came outside and told me that the next week, BC’s Law Students Association was going to send out surveys to help pair incoming 1Ls with upperclassmen-mentors, and that I should request him specifically. I told him that of course I would – he didn’t just help me get into BC Law, he helped me get a full scholarship!

Rob and Matt

Rob (right) and his mentor Matt

The next year, Matt was the best 1L mentor I could have asked for. He ate lunch with me regularly, sent me outlines, and invited me to all of his tailgates for BC home football games. Most importantly, he helped prepare me for another application process – this time, for a position as a Resident Assistant for BC’s undergrads. Not only did I land the job, but was also offered a spot in Matt’s own Mod for my 2L year.

(If that wasn’t enough, Matt also introduced me to his work-study supervisor, the Director of Campus Recreation. She asked me to take over Matt’s job after he graduated in the spring. The job was only a two-minute walk from where I’d be living and included a free gym membership. I accepted on the spot.)

After Matt graduated in the spring, studied for and passed the bar exam, and then began work as an associate at a big firm downtown, we remained extremely close. Over the past two years, we have kept tailgating together before every BC home football game – only he became the guest and I was the host. During the offseason, we grab meals together regularly. And he still answers my questions about how to best prepare for the steps on my path to becoming a lawyer, namely the MPRE this past fall and the bar exam this upcoming summer.

As I may have mentioned before on this blog, I am a diehard Patriots fan. Matt is too. And on February 1, 2015, we were together at a viewing party in the Mod when this happened:

I can’t sum up how valuable Matt’s mentorship has been to me in law school, other than to say that Matt is my BC Law Malcolm Butler.

Rob Rossi is a 3L at BC Law and a current member of the Boston College Law Review‘s Executive Board and the former Chair of the Law Students Association Social Media & Communications Committee. Feel free to contact him with questions about his experience, BC Law, or law school in general. Comment here or send him an e-mail at rossire@bc.edu, and don’t forget to follow the Boston College Law Students Association on Twitter @BCLSA.

If you have any questions about mentorship opportunities, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me or anyone else on Impact! And remember, even though you don’t know the answers to everything, chances are that the mentors you meet today, tomorrow, and throughout your legal career will. (Or at the very least, they’ll be able to Google it.)

Charlene is a 2L, but check out her posts about things she wishes she knew as a 1L, from day one to the last exam. Her inbox is always open so you can comment here, or shoot her an email at ochogo@bc.edu. 

 

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