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College of Law and Chicago Bar Association Create “Build Your Network Law Student Mentoring Program”

Shannon & Katie
Last year, DePaul University College of Law and the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) jointly created the “Building Your Network Law Student Mentoring Program” to pair current second- and third-year law students with practicing legal professionals in a variety of employment settings and practice areas from the CBA’s Young Lawyers Section (YLS). The program was the vision of Law Career Services Assistant Dean Shannon DeGennaro, and it was developed and implemented by Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center Director Katie Liss.  In its inaugural year, 27 law students were paired with individual attorneys to establish one-to-one mentoring relationships; this year, 32 law students were paired with mentors. 

The program annually kicks off with a fall reception, and during the academic year, mentor-mentee pairs are asked to meet in-person twice in the fall, twice in the spring, and again for a final reception in April.  Students also are encouraged to meet their mentors for lunch or coffee, attend court with or shadow their mentors for a day in the office, attend a CBA committee meeting or YLS social event together, and/or volunteer together at a pro bono event. 

​​The goal of this year-long program is to connect law students with young legal professionals (i.e., having at least one year but no more than 10 years of experience) who can still relate to being in law school, and who can offer current law students relevant insights about law school, taking the bar exam and getting an initial job.  The program also provides current students with valuable learning opportunities and networking experiences within the legal community.  According to Liss, “A mentor-mentee relationship is vital to enhancing the legal profession.  For many in this program, this is the first time they have either been a mentor or a mentee in an official mentorship relationship.  By truly understanding what the solid building blocks of a mentorship entails, everyone within our profession will benefit.”​