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UD President Dennis Assanis welcomes the audience of alumni, students and guests, calling the new Legal Professional Preparatory Program an "amazing resource for students.
of Delaware students who are considering legal careers got plenty of
advice and encouragement from practicing attorneys at the inaugural Law
Mentoring Weekend, held Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, on the UD
The event, organized by the new Legal Professional Preparatory Program
(LP3) in the College of Arts and Sciences and the student HenLaw
Society, featured a Friday evening reception and a Saturday filled with
opportunities to network and learn from alumni and others working as
lawyers, as well as from current law students.
There are an awful lot of alumni who care about your well-being
practicing attorneys who want you to succeed, John Gaul, CAS78, told
the students, referring to the strong turnout of alumniall prospective
mentorsat the events.
Gaul, who graduated from UD with a
degree in political science and then earned his law degree at Villanova
University, had the initial vision to create a preparation and mentoring
program for undergraduates interested in law school.
He has said that he had great mentors at UD, particularly James Magee
(now the Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor Emeritus of Political Science
and International Relations), but that he lacked similar guidance in law
school and while beginning his career.
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John Gaul, CAS78, an attorney who had the original idea to create
the LP3 mentoring program to help UD graduates as they go on to law school and legal careers, networks with students and guests at the event.
Gaul wanted to address that need through a program where alumni would
offer guidance to UD students and continue that role as those students
went on to law school and legal careers. Working with David C. Wilson,
associate dean for the social sciences in UDs College of Arts and
Sciences, and Phillip Mink, assistant professor of English, Gaul helped
develop LP3 and its network of alumni-mentors.
At the weekend event, Gaul assured students that the program will
continue to be available to them as law students and as beginning
practitioners. He said he expects that most will then go on to become
In the coming years, There will be a network of Blue Hen lawyers throughout this country, Gaul said.
UD President Dennis Assanis welcomed students, alumni and guests to the Saturday event, calling LP3 an amazing program.
Although the University doesnt have its own law school, he said, its
location in a state known as a national center of corporate law and the
strong academic foundation it provides students makes it an exceptional
resource for prospective lawyers.
The grounding and the preparation we give our students provide
them with the tools to be ready for the next challenge, Assanis said.
One UD alumna who delivered a keynote address about her work as a
lawyer credited a former professor for helping her identify and take the
first steps on her career path.
Sandra Simkins, who is Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law at
Rutgers Law School and director and co-founder of the Childrens Justice
Clinic, said she graduated from UD in 1987 without a firm career goal.
When she decided to explore the possibility of law school, she said,
Joseph Pika (now James R. Soles Professor Emeritus of Political Science
and International Relations) offered guidance as she applied to law
school and took a secretarial job with a law firm.
Theodore Ruger, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School,
tells students that the legal profession needs your energy, your
intellect, your commitment to justice.
Simkins, who has devoted her career to the cause of juvenile justice,
advised students in the audience to make sure they are passionate about
practicing law and that they go on to help others.
Its an incredible privilege to be a lawyer, and you should give back, she said.
Similar advice came from Theodore Ruger, dean and Bernard G. Segal
Professor of Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School, who also
addressed the group.
You are the future of our profession, he told students in the
audience. A much smaller percentage of college graduates today are
applying to law schools than a few decades ago, he said, but there is
no shortage of problems to be solved.
The legal profession and society, Ruger said, need your energy, your intellect [and] your commitment to justice.
Rugers and Simkins advice to todays undergraduates was similar to
that offered by many participants in the days panel discussions, which
focused on such topics as choosing the right law school, succeeding in
law school and beginning a legal career. A special workshop, led by
Kenworthey Bilz, professor of law at the University of Illinois College
of Law, discussed the problem of implicit bias.
During the panels, many practicing lawyers talked about the need for
both flexibility and passion in deciding on the course of a career.
Your career path wont necessarily be a straight line, said Leslie
McNair-Jackson, CAS97, who found that her dream job with a Manhattan law
firm didnt turn out to be fulfilling. Instead, she went on to work as a
public defender and now serves as the deputy public defender for the
Camden Region of New Jerseys Office of the Public Defender.
It can take a circuitous journey to find your passion,
McNair-Jackson said, urging students to be open to unexpected
opportunities whenever they arise.
Also at Saturdays event, students and alumni had a chance to test
out some mentoring skills during a presentation, Law Mentoring at UD
and Beyond, by Julie Silard Kantor, CEO and founder of TwoMentor.
Kantor spoke about the triple win of mentoringbenefiting the
mentor, the mentee and businesses that are able to reduce employee
turnover by encouraging mentoringand led the audience in some exercises
in which they practiced engaging in preliminary mentoring
Law Mentoring Weekend was supported by Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson
and Tardy, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, Penn State
University Dickinson Law, UD Career Services Center and the College of
Arts and Sciences Deans Office.
Participants included admissions officials from American University
Washington College of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law,
Villanova Universitys Charles Widger School of Law, Seton Hall
University School of Law, Widener University Delaware Law School and
Widener University Commonwealth Law School.
Article by Ann Manser; photos by Wenbo Fan