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Fall Mentor Reception

Mentoring is about building relationships, according to a panel of alumni speaking to students at New York Law School’s Fall Mentor Reception on October 18th in the Wellington Center. The Law School’s Alumni Association Mentor Program sponsors a number of Mentor Receptions through out the academic year.

”Approach potential mentors the way you would approach someone at a cocktail party,” Eric Yee ’95, Chair of the Alumni Association Mentor Committee, told the students. “The mentoring program is here for you. There’s no need to be shy.”

Meg Reuter, Assistant Dean for Career Planning, explained that between 450 and 470 alumni have signed up as mentors. New York Law School’s Alumni Mentor Program allows students to search for mentors by a variety of criteria, including year of graduation, whether they were a day or evening division student, undergraduate institution, most recent or relevant field of employment, and preferred method for student contact.

The mentor database can be accessed through NYLS Career Court, available on the New York Law School Web site Alumni Mentor Program page (http://www.nyls.edu/pages/2663.asp).

Attending events that bring alumni to the Law School, whether they are specifically dedicated to mentoring or not, also is a way to connect with alumni.

“Tonight is a great opportunity because it’s set up for you to interact with the mentor,” Moreen Faustin, Associate Director of Career Services, said. “Whenever you see an event at the Law School with alumni, that’s like an open door.”

Many students feel awkward about approaching a potential mentor and don’t know what to ask.

Harris G. Miller ’82, a member of the Alumni Association Board who has been active in the Alumni Mentor Program, told the students that one of the best ice-breakers is to simply ask the potential mentor what he or she does.

“People love to talk about themselves,” he commented. “All you have to do is get them started.”

“You can ask, what do you like about your practice and what are the tough parts?” Ms. Reuter said. “Think of the kind of questions that would be meaningful to you if you were in that practice.”

Ms. Reuter told the students that it was important to send mentors thank-you notes and follow up on their suggestions.

“They’re trying to give you something of value,” she explained, “and they want to know you’ve used it.”

The relationship a student develops with a mentor “doesn’t have to end when you graduate,” Mr. Yee added. He also advised the student to develop mentor relationships with other students who are a class or two ahead of them in law school.

The panelists agreed that when students have a meeting with a potential mentor, it is valuable to prepare for it ahead of time. Students should look up their potential mentor in Martindale Hubbell or on law firm or company Web sites.

Ms. Reuter also suggested that students going on interviews attempt to meet New York Law School alumni at the firm or company they are visiting even if that person is not in the mentor database.

Enthusiasm is important, the panelists agreed, as is patience. Some potential mentors are very busy people and may not answer an email right away, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in helping.