UF Law Mentor Program Unique Among Florida Schools
According to The Florida Bar, the Levin College of Law is the only Florida school with an interactive student-mentor program. Its database of lawyermentors who volunteer their time to help students better understand the legal profession has grown to more than 300 since the Center for Career Services took over the program in 2000, and now includes information such as the mentor’s graduation year, region, practice specialty and law school extra-curricular activities. “More information makes for better matches between students and mentors,” said Career Services Assistant Dean Kathy Urbach. Third-year law student Gisela Then met her mentor, UF graduate Oscar Sanchez, president of the Law Alumni Council and partner at Akerman Senterfitt, her first year of law school. “Being a mentor to Gisela was extremely fulfilling. I have been involved in these types of programs for years, and success or failure always depends on the level of involvement either side puts into it,” said Sanchez. “Gisela and I hit it off right away when she was in her first year of law school, and because of her commitment, we maintained the mentor-mentee relationship via e-mail over the years. For the mentor, it is a great way to give back a little and to stay in touch with the wonderful enthusiasm of the students.” Then considers the mentor program one of her best experiences in law school. “It has been motivational since the beginning,” she said. “Oscar is the perfect model of a successful UF graduate and was very available to me. All his guidance and advice turned out to be right.” “Some mentors meet with students just a few times, some build lasting associations,” said Urbach. “Sometimes a mentor’s practice won’t quite match a student’s interests, but the mentor will provide another contact for the student, which can be incredibly helpful.” “Many mentors take on more than one student at a time,” she added. “The program is a great way for lawyers to give back and help students ease into professional life.” Students interested in finding a mentor or graduates wishing to volunteer should contact the Center for Career Services.