UHLC mentoring program prepares students to enter legal world 

UHLC Dean Leonard M. Baynes stresses the importance of finding the right mentor to building a successful career.

Oct. 21, 2015 – The University of Houston Law Center hosted local lawyers and their mentees at an event to kick-off the third annual Law Center mentoring program. This program and event underscores the importance of guidance to students from veteran practitioners in preparation for legal careers.

The Upper Level Mentoring Program pairs students with attorneys, many of whom are Law Center alumni, to serve as volunteer mentors during law school and beyond.

“When it comes to mentoring, no one succeeds in life without it,” said Dean Leonard M. Baynes. “If you ask anyone, and they are truthful with themselves, they will tell you they got to where they are because someone helped them, somehow. “

Ashley C. Scott, senior career specialist for the Career Development Office, said the program has grown this year, now totaling 68 attorneys and 77 Law Center students compared to last year when 47 lawyers served as mentors to 64 students.

“I’m very pleased to see this program gain increased support from year to year, to the point that many alumni call it their ‘favorite’ program to be involved with,” said Carolyn D. Taylor, director of donor relations and stewardship in the Office of External Affairs, who coordinates the program with Scott.

Richard F. Whiteley, president of the UH Law Alumni Association and a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, spoke about how important mentoring is for the community of lawyers and how it is the key to success in the legal field.

“I encourage you to go and sit down with your mentee and ask ‘What do you need?’” said Whiteley.  “My most important suggestion is for a mentee to ask their mentor the questions that they’re afraid to ask anyone else.”

Houston Bar Association President Laura Gibson ’84 and Michael Ryan ’15, who recently started at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, participated in a Q & A session about their mentorship, which began last year.   

“The reason we need mentors throughout our entire lives is because we need someone to say, ‘I think you’re great,’ ” said Gibson, a founding partner of Ogden, Gibson, Broocks, Longoria & Hall.

Both mentors and mentees can benefit from the mentoring relationship, said Ryan. He encouraged mentees to be proactive in developing the relationship with their mentors and to “get to know [your mentor] as a person.”

The event ended with a discussion disproving common myths about mentoring. Kelly Herrera ’05, counsel at ConocoPhillips, shared a story addressing the myth that you only need one perfect mentor.

“Mentoring relationships can develop even if you don’t practice in the areas your mentee is interested in,” she said. “My two mentees were interested in a different practice area, so I coordinated meetings for them to connect with my friends and colleagues from other departments. I like to think I was a conduit to get them connected.”

The mentoring program will continue throughout the year, and will include recommendations for events and activities that will give mentors and their mentees opportunities to effectively build a bond and ensure students receive the knowledge they need to succeed.

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