Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 5:11 p.m.
GW Law students launched a mentorship program earlier this month to provide pre-law undergraduates with resources to study for the Law School Admission Test and advise them on their law school application essays.
Students involved with the program said current law school students and attorneys are paired with undergraduates to look over their law school applications and introduce them to other law students and admissions counselors. Undergraduate mentees said the program has helped them navigate their preparations to take the LSAT and apply to law school by giving them a personalized perspective on the application process.
Richard Samboy, a third-year law student and the vice president of student enrichment services for the Student Bar Association who helped organize the program, said almost 170 undergraduates have signed up for the mentorship program along with “close to” 100 law school students and attorneys to serve as mentors.
Samboy said he started developing the program over the summer after becoming the law school’s student engagement vice president and worked with Debbie Baker – GW’s sole pre-law adviser who was recently laid off – to reach out to current pre-law students and gauge interest for the program.
“Students are still expected to do the basic things that pre-law advisers do, which is review materials and then take it one step further and actually meet however many times they can all meet,” he said.
Students said last month that GW’s remaining pre-law advising services after Baker’s departure are “inadequate” but said the new mentorship program will provide more opportunities for pre-law students to receive guidance.
Samboy said when students are eventually allowed back on campus, he plans to introduce his mentees to other law students and law school admissions officers from GW. He said he also plans to connect them with attorneys during a “speed networking” event next semester and hold virtual admissions events in addition to guest speakers.
He said he hopes to make the process of applying to law school easier for the next generation of law students through the program. He said the decision to launch the program after Baker was let go was “perfect timing” and “filled a necessary void” as a new resource to guide students.
“Even though the pre-law adviser was let go, these students do have some sort of guidance, individualized guidance,” he said. “Hopefully, they’re not left to figure things out on their own.”
Samboy, who is also a mentor himself, said he assigned each student a mentor they have something in common with, like interests or life experiences, to give all students an “equal opportunity” to have a mentor.
Ignacio Gomez, a freshman majoring in international affairs who is one of Samboy’s mentees, said he signed up for the program to understand more about what law school had to offer for a potential career. He said he met with his mentor to ask about law school and the LSAT, and the two have gotten to know each other more personally.
“We’ve also gotten to know each other on a personal level so his background and my background and comparing how that might relate to a law profession,” he said.
He said the new mentorship program can’t fully compensate for the loss of Baker, but it will help him stay on track academically and understand the inner workings of the law school application process.
“I honestly wasn’t expecting to get a mentor,” Gomez said. “But hearing that all the freshmen and all the sophomores who applied, I’m pretty sure, got one, I think that’s honestly really great on their part for wanting to include everybody.”
Kylie Henry, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, said she decided to join the program because she didn’t know anyone with experience applying to law school and was looking for additional resources. She said through the program, she hopes to learn more about what attending law school looks like.
Henry said after just one phone call with her mentor, she learned about ways to study for the LSAT, and her mentor offered to look over a paper she is writing for GW’s undergraduate law review.
“I don’t have anyone in my family who is a lawyer, and I don’t know anyone personally who is a lawyer, so I wanted to get to know someone who goes to law school and has some more info about what attending law school looks like,” she said.
She said she was told to ask her academic adviser for guidance after Baker left GW but said her adviser doesn’t have the experience applying to law school that Baker had and that she hopes she can hear from her mentor.
“I absolutely would [recommend the program] especially with not having a pre-law adviser on campus but also just getting another opinion about law school from someone who is closer in age and who went through the application process,” Henry said.
This post has been updated to correct the following:
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Samboy was the vice president of student engagement for the law school. He is the vice president of student enrichment services for the Student Bar Association. It is now corrected.