National Pre-Law Diversity Initiatives, Inc. and the National Black Law Students Association Partner for National Mentorship Program
According to Mitchell, "African Americans have a harder time getting into law school than any other racial group for a myriad of reasons. Our mission is to proactively do something about it. Conferences do make a difference because we are able to connect participants to critically important information, resources and connections that they otherwise might not have access to. However, I recognized that we needed to do something more so I wanted to implement an ongoing, year-round program where participants could get the support that they needed beyond the empowerment and encouragement of two-day conferences."
"We know that people are more likely to succeed when they can benefit from quality mentoring relationships and that they persist when they have support from their peers. This mentoring program is a formal way that we can make certain that those people who are serious about law school can get that needed "circle of support" from both mentors and achievement-
This program is open to Black college students, graduates and working professionals who are interested in attending law school and feel that they need continued guidance, support and accountability to stay on track to achieve their goals. To ensure that momentum continues, the mentoring will not be one-on-one, but instead pre-law mentees will be assigned to small-group "mentoring circles" made up of five to six people. The circles will consist of a law student mentor leader and a lawyer mentor leader who will facilitate the group discussions, as well as three to four pre-law mentees who will serve as peer accountability partners to one another. Mentoring circle assignments will be based on commonalities between the mentors and mentees. Program administrators will be sure to check-in with all participants on a monthly basis, and give them resources and guidance throughout the program year in order to increase the chances that the mentoring relationships will work. Due to technological advancements, it is not a requirement that mentors and mentees reside in the same city although an effort will be made to make sure that at least two members of the mentoring circles reside in the same city or within driving distance to each other in the event that they want to get together. The program requires participants to be able to get access to a computer or smart phone and to sign up to use free video conferencing and phone conferencing platforms for their monthly, one-hour meetings.
All participants must make a year-long commitment to the program and after completing it, they will receive recognition and rewards at the National HBCU Pre-Law Summit and the National Black Pre-Law Conference if they choose to attend. To participate as a pre-law mentee, one should identify as African American/Black and complete the sign-up form. Law student mentors will be recruited from members of the National Black Law Students Association, and lawyer mentors will be recruited from various professional networks and Black bar associations throughout the country. All pre-law members of the National Black Law Students Association's Pre-Law Division are encouraged to become a pre-law mentee. Every mentor and mentee participant must sign a formal agreement setting forth expectations and responsibilities. Mentoring circles can choose to end the formal group at the close of the mentoring program year, or to continue on for another year.
According to Andrea Rivers, National Director of Pre-Law Affairs for the National Black Law Students Association, "The greatest gift current Black attorneys and law students can give the future generation of Black attorneys is motivation -- that is, motivation to move forward in their pursuits despite any odds or challenges, motivation for them to succeed while enrolled, and motivation for those students to subsequently pull up the next generation. This mentorship program will facilitate that and hopefully build lasting networks." Through this partnership, NBLSA has committed to making sure that every mentoring circle has a current law student serving as a leader and participant, and that their pre-law members find mentors.
The program and website have just launched and future law students seeking mentoring, as well as law students and lawyers who are interested in serving as mentors, can now sign-up online until the beginning of April. Those signing up after the deadline will be assigned to a mentoring circle for the following year unless spaces remain open. Mentoring circle assignments will be made from April until July, and the official mentoring year will begin in August. This invaluable program is offered at absolutely no cost to participants. For more information and to sign-up to participate, please visit the program's official website at http://bridgebuildersesq.org.
National Pre-Law Diversity Initiatives, Inc.