Mentoring program helps 1Ls transition to law school

From left: Joe Mager, Chris Klepps, Kelly Davis and Jen Strashnick
From left: Joe Mager, Chris Klepps, Kelly Davis and Jen Strashnick
March 5, 2012 - When Chris Klepps arrived at Quinnipiac three years ago, he didn't know anyone on campus. Now a third-year student, Klepps is serving as a mentor to first-year students as part of a new program launched in the fall. "It helps ease the transition when there's a safety net," he explains. "You know someone's there."

First-year students are placed into small groups of three or four and matched with a 2L, 3L or 4L mentor. Mentees began receiving e-mails from their mentors before they arrived on campus in August for Orientation.

"It's a better way to transition into law school," says Kristin Losi, a third-year student who organized the mentoring program. "It's a way to relax--it's overwhelming the first year."

The program kicked off with a welcome barbeque at Sleeping Giant State Park, just across the street from the School of Law Center. Thanks to the program, Losi says first-year students arrived better prepared than before--many knew where to park and had already gotten their Quinnipiac ID cards before Orientation weekend.

Mentors check in with their groups several times a month. They ask how classes are going, send reminders about summer job applications, and offer advice.

The program provides an informal way for 1Ls to ask questions--especially silly ones. "It can be intimidating to pop into a professor's office or randomly talk to another student," Klepps says.

Mentors organize informal gatherings each semester, such as a trip to Starbucks, a happy hour or a bowling outing. Klepps' group, which he co-mentors with classmate Kelly Davis, includes first-year students Joe Mager and Jen Strashnick.

They met recently at Side Street Grille, a long-time favorite among Quinnipiac students. Klepps and Davis asked mentees how their first semester went and which professors they're planning to take classes with next year.

"This is the best advice: Take the classes you have to in your 2L year," Davis said. "Get it out of the way so you can take fun classes in your 3L year."

Klepps and Davis also recommended taking advantage of the School of Law's Ireland program, which allows law students to spend a summer at Trinity College in Dublin.

Feedback from mentors and mentees has been overwhelmingly positive, Losi says. This year, 27 students signed up to be mentors. Losi has received numerous e-mails from 1Ls saying how excited they are about the program.

"I wanted to give back," she says. "It's nice to know you played a part in their success."