By Celine Aka • February 12, 2017•Ms. JD, Conference, Issues, Mentoring and Networking
National Women Law Students’ Organization (NWLSO) - University of Puerto Rico School of Law
2017 Ms. JD Law School Chapter Award
The following questions were formulated based on the NWLSO's profile.
1. NWLSO was founded in 2014 at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. What was the unmet need behind the creation of such a wonderful organization?
Our school has organizations for all sorts of interests and students are encouraged to propose and develop ideas for what they think will benefit communities or the student body. When we started, we had the vision of a network of support that women in our law school could rely on. Our first members agreed on the need to organize a group that would specifically celebrate women’s achievements in the law, provide tools for academic and professional advancement, and champion female leadership. We saw potential in a mentorship program that brought 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls together and at the same time could advocate for a message of empowerment, personal growth and equal opportunity.
2. What could be attributed to the success of the Organization?
Our members. Since 2014, students have stepped up to be part of our pilot program, the student mentorship program, as well as with supporting NWLSO's events. Mentors sign up to share advice they initially did not get as incoming students and mentees bring a new set of ideas to the organization and an amazing attitude on learning what to expect. Our members share a unique desire to uplift others. Our law school faculty also counts with admirable women members look up to, like our Dean Vivian Neptune. She has supported our cause from the beginning. The Ms. JD crew was key in our first year, too. The NWLSO's Liaison, who at the time was Liz Hague, proved to be an asset to our organization. Any group looking to start a NWLSO in their school should definitely take advantage of this!
3. Mentorship is instrumental in the legal profession. What do you think is so valuable in mentorship?
We believe in the value of sharing and constructive advice. Mentorship provides a more experienced person the opportunity to pass on valuable knowledge to a person who is starting or might want to strengthen professional or social skills. We also think mentorship provides students a more practical approach to building confidence. Many things our students learn from the mentorship are not necessarily taught in classrooms or in books. This proves to be useful later on in the courtroom and networking events.
4. NWLSO encourages men to be part of the conversation on issues related to women’s advancement in the legal profession. Why is it crucial for men to be part of the conversation?
When men speak up about issues relating to equality in the profession they become our allies. Advocacy doesn’t need to be limited to only one group of people. We think it’s important for them to be part of the conversation because when they participate in events that promote women in the profession, they are inherently being part of our goal to seek healthier and happier work environments that benefit us all. While we acknowledge that discussion amongst women also has its perks, we believe in the power of strength, and for us, that means including men who are willing to listen and propose solutions from their own experiences. Our program also includes male law students. They have mentored other men and women as well.
5. What is your most recent event and what was its purpose?
Our most recent event was a pizza social! We sold pizza to raise money for our chapter and simultaneously invited members to meet to discuss any questions or concerns they had. The majority of the first-year students asked about studying tips and how to prep for their first round of law school exams. Our second and third year members were happy to share their insight and advice, as well as what they would have done differently in their first year. Some of the tips ranged from how to effectively outline class material to what to take to the classroom on test day. Our chapter feels that these meetings are essential at the beginning and the end of each semester, so that members can speak to different students and get different perspectives about any issue they may have.
Click here to learn more about NWLSO!
Click here to get information about the 2017 Ms. JD Conference!