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The Help: Lead by Serving the Next Generation

By Rebekah Hanley

Assistant Dean for Career Planning and Professional Development

The slow economic recovery has prompted many friends of Oregon Law to ask how they can assist the generation of graduates now entering the profession. Some feel frustrated, thinking that if they cannot hire recent graduates for a paid position, they cannot help at all. That’s flat wrong.

Many of our alumni are supporting Oregon Law students and recent graduates by sharing their time, advice, and contact lists. That’s great; alumni connections have never been more important for law students than they are today.

Still wondering what you have to offer? Here are a few activities to consider.

House a law student. Oregon Law students can develop practical skills and professional contacts by serving as an extern for a judge, nonprofit, or business. Many of these opportunities are in Portland, allowing students to engage with the bar in the state’s largest legal market while they extern. But the prospect of paying rent in two places often deters law students from applying for these valuable experiences. Some alumni have been helping make these opportunities affordable by volunteering to house Oregon Law students for a term. If you have an extra room and a generous spirit, this is an easy way to support our students. To volunteer, contact Associate Dean Jane Gordon at jgordon@uoregon.edu.

Supervise a volunteer. If you work for a nonprofit organization or government agency, you may be able to help a new lawyer gain real-world experience even if you don’t have the budget to hire her. Practical Skills through Public Service is an example of a Portland-based – and expanding – program launched by three Oregon Law alumni that helps new lawyers enhance their resumes, skills, and networks while working for the public good. See here for more information.

Mentor a recent graduate. Did an established lawyer help you when you were starting out? You now have a chance to pay that kindness forward. Have you learned something the hard way that you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your career? Help a new lawyer avoid the same misstep through a mentoring relationship.

Make yourself accessible. Some of our alumni are excited to take on a mentee but are uncertain about how to go about it. One way to connect with current students is to sign up for the professional network on our Oregon Law database. That will allow Oregon Law students, who are eager to hear about your professional experiences, to easily locate and reach you. Through this program, you control your commitment level; volunteering for as little as a one-time coffee outing once a year is absolutely fine. Learning to network is a critical component of our students’ professional development; we appreciate your willingness to help Oregon Law students practice this skill.

Judge a competition. Law students participate in moot court competitions to sharpen their practical skills and enhance their resumes. Volunteer judges play a key role in these events; they provide a realistic experience and offer constructive criticism that allows students to grow. Alumni travel from around the state and beyond to judge oral arguments for Legal Research and Writing and competitions organized by our Moot Court Board. Return to Eugene for a day and share what you know.

Stay up to speed. Amazing things are happening at Oregon Law. Joining the Oregon Law groups on LinkedIn and Facebook will allow you to stay abreast of the exciting developments and learn about new mentoring opportunities.

Get involved in these and other efforts, and the entire Oregon Law community will benefit. The new lawyers will expand their network and improve their skills, giving them a boost in a tough job market, while the established lawyers will gain incomparable personal satisfaction by contributing.

For additional information, please contact me at rhanley@uoregon.edu.

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