Entering law school can be daunting. New students face many challenges and have a host of doubts and questions. Mitchell Hamline Mentors is a group mentor program that provides first-year students (1Ls) with the knowledge, support, and advice they need to successfully transition into life as law students and start planning their careers after law school.
To accomplish this, we rely on two sources of wisdom: the perspective and professionalism of our recent alumni who still remember what it was like as a 1L, but who now use their degrees in the real world; and current, on-the-ground insights and information from second-year students who only recently completed their first year. Each Mitchell Hamline Mentors team includes two alumni co-mentors, one second-year peer advisor, and two or three 1Ls.
We believe that our alumni have valuable information to offer 1Ls about how to succeed in law school no matter where they work or what they do, and that law students benefit greatly from learning how to network with and learn from a range of lawyers. However, we invite students to identify a type of work they’d like to learn more about and we try to place them in a group where one alumni mentor works in that area.
Expectations and requirements for participation
Students: This program is designed to help you have a great first year of law school and to help you develop the professionalism, networking, and career exploration skills that you’ll need to create career opportunities for yourself during and after law school.
Being and remaining motivated are keys to having a great year. In order for every team member to get the most from the experience, we ask students to commit to participating in activities organized by their mentor team, to being professional in their dealings with their alumni mentors and student colleagues, and to be genuinely interested in taking advantage of the insights and advice their peer advisor and alumni co-mentors have to offer.
Incoming students will receive more information about how to apply to participate in Mitchell Hamline Mentors over the summer and when they arrive on campus in the fall.
Peer advisors: Students who participated in Mitchell Hamline Mentors during their first year are invited to indicate their interest in becoming a peer advisor at the conclusion of the program. They are then invited to complete an application during the summer to become a peer advisor for the next academic year. Peer advisors play a critical role in helping the students in their team with day-to-day questions, and also help coordinate activities for the mentor team. Peer advisors are also welcome to take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the alumni mentors.
Alumni: We invite alumni who have graduated between one and six years ago to be mentors in this program. We ask our alumni volunteers to commit to the following over the course of the school year:
- Attend a few required, on-campus gatherings (in mid-September, January, and April)
- Stay in touch with and respond to questions from your mentor team members
- Help plan and attend group activities (including office tours, observational opportunities, and more)
In addition to group activities, mentors and students are also free to schedule individual meetings or activities. We anticipate that alumni mentors will spend about 10-12 hours on their mentor activities during the school year, and stress the need for mentors to be available to the students in their team and to be responsive to communications.
Recent graduates living in the Twin Cities who are interested in being a mentor for Mitchell Hamline Mentors can sign up online from July through August.
(Alumni who graduated more than six years ago, who live outside the Twin Cities, or who would prefer a one-on-one mentor relationship with a student are encouraged to be a mentor in our one-on-one mentor program)
All participants: All members of our mentor teams are required to attend two on-campus activities each year: a kickoff event in September, and a January Thaw event in January. A career exploration event in April is also required for students and highly encouraged for mentors. In addition, mentor teams are expected to organize at least three additional activities during the year, including a visit to one or both mentor’s workplaces, an observational opportunity with one or both mentors, and a social gathering such as a happy hour or lunch. (We recognize that part-time students have less time available and may not meet as frequently.)
All participants receive a Mentor Handbook with additional information about expectations and tips for success, and monthly emails containing each month’s suggested group activity, along with possible discussion topics.