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.
“It’s 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.”
Ruger’s and Simkins’ advice to today’s undergraduates was similar to
that offered by many participants in the day’s 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 won’t necessarily be a straight line,” said Leslie
McNair-Jackson, CAS97, who found that her dream job with a Manhattan law
firm didn’t 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 Jersey’s 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 Saturday’s 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 mentoring”—benefiting the
mentor, the mentee and businesses that are able to reduce employee
turnover by encouraging mentoring—and led the audience in some exercises
in which they practiced engaging in preliminary mentoring
About Law Mentoring Weekend
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 Dean’s Office.
Participants included admissions officials from American University
Washington College of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law,
Villanova University’s 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