Students mentor law school hopefuls

Ed Swaray

When Reid LeBeau began at the University Law School two years ago, the volume of work he had to do shocked him.

“I thought I was prepared for the challenge of law school after my undergraduate studies,” he said. “But I had to read 10 times more materials in my first year of law school than I did in my senior year in undergraduate school.”

To prevent the pressure and stress of law school from surprising its students, the Law Council, a student organization, established a mentorship program for undergraduate students interested in studying law.

The program, which began this spring, is a collaboration among the Law Council, the Martin Luther King Jr.

Program and the pre-law advising office.

Jeannie Stumne, an adviser at the Martin Luther King Jr. Program, said at least 25 students have signed up to be mentored.

She said students who are first-generation college students could benefit from this experience.

“Their mentors might be one of the few people who they might be able to connect to with this experience,” she said. “This program can help them decide if (the) Law School is the right fit for them.”

Bobak Ha’Eri, Law Council president, said the program gives interested undergraduate students the opportunity to hear from current law students.

“Law School students are very open to talk about their experience here,” he said. “This will give prospective students the chance to see what real law student perspectives are.”

He said the program pairs prospective students with current students based on their concerns and interest.

“It is a one-to-one pair up where students can ask any question from expressing interest in law school to courses they can take after they have been admitted,” he said.

He said that while the Law Council does not play a role in the admissions process, it can provide invaluable personal

experiences to prospective students.

“Information is power and we want to empower pre-law students as they make their career choices,” Ha’Eri said.

Janelle Larson, a career services coordinator with the pre-law advising office, said the program is another source for information regarding the Law School.

“This mentoring program will help students prepare for the intensity of their law school experience.”

LeBeau, vice president of the council, said the program also seeks to recruit more minority students.

According to the University’s Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, of the 797 students enrolled in the Law School in spring 2004, 123 of them are minorities.

LeBeau, who is one of seven American Indian students at the school, said diversity at the Law School is important.

An institution creating leaders for the future should have a cross section of its people represented, he said.

“Besides,” he said, “we will be able to look at the issue of law and policy from a heterogeneous perspective to see how it affects all people instead of a homogeneous perspective, which is all too common.”