Creating Successful Mentorship Programs - Tips from a Program Leader

Editors Note: This post was submitted by Sarah Martin, a 2011 Ms. JD Fellow.  The Ms. JD Fellowship is the result of partnership between Ms. JD and the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.  Fellows, who are rising 3Ls, are paired with an ABA Commissioner or Margaret Brent Award Winner as part of a year long mentorship.  Applications for this year's fellowship are due on March 1, 2014. Apply today! 

As part of their fellowship, each Ms. JD fellow writes a post for the blog about an issue of importance to them.  Sarah has been very involved in the Women of Color Collective at Berkeley and writes about founding its mentorship program.  To learn more about Sarah and the other 2011 fellows, click here.

During my first year of law school, I was lucky enough to befriend a second-year student who shared my academic interests and sense of humor. Our relationship inspired me to create the mentorship program within the Women of Color Collective, which has now grown to encompass several classes of Berkeley Law women. I hope it continues for many years to come, as our graduates spread out across the country and become leaders in our profession.

I’d like to share some of our successful experiments, for the benefit of those considering a similar program.

1. Creating an online database (docs.google.com) listing the contact information of consenting members and descriptions of their 1L summer, 2L summer, school-year internships, clinical placements, recommended classes, areas of interest (that the poster would be willing to discuss with classmates), and post-graduate employment

2. Matching 1Ls with mentors through an online sign-up (http://www.google.com/google-d-s/forms). Participants are matched by areas of interest. Whenever possible, each 1L received both a 2L and a 3L mentor.

3. Hosting mentorship socials. For those encountering scheduling difficulties, a group social provides a stress-free environment for the first or second meeting. Bonus: all are invited, so those who missed the sign-up or those dissatisfied with their match can find a better match in person.

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