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MLaw Summer Mentorship Program Creates Lifelong Alumni-Student Connections

By Jordan Poll
September 13, 2019

As the first in his family to attend law school, 2L Cole Hanson joined the Michigan Law Alumni-Student Summer Mentoring Program to seek guidance and expand his opportunities for success. The mentoring program paired Hanson with Gordon Devens, '94, former chief legal officer at XPO Logistics Inc. and one of Michigan Law's 22,000 alumni. "Gordon was on my side, always making time for me in person and remotely. He did everything he could to help me succeed," said Hanson. "But it was his perspective as a first-generation lawyer and Big Law attorney-turned-in-house counsel that I benefitted from the most as I navigated my 1L summer internship [with The Hon. Lisa Margaret Smith of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York] and interviewed with law firms."

The Alumni-Student Summer Mentoring Program, piloted in 2014, connects current and future alumni for one-on-one mentoring. The commitment is over a period of six months, starting in May when students travel to their summer internships in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., and extending three months after they return to campus. The program is co-sponsored by the Office of Career Planning and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, which pair participants with shared practice areas and similar backgrounds, interests, and hobbies.

Having found the experience to be both stimulating and rewarding, Devens encourages alumni and students alike to avail themselves of the opportunity. "Give it a try, and see if it fits. The Law School makes it easy by taking care of the hardest part for you: matching participants and facilitating that initial contact," he said. "It's a fantastic resource for students. For alumni who have the availability and an open mind, it's a great way to stay connected to Michigan. Simply through talking with Cole, I learned about a number of new programs and offerings since my graduation 25 years ago. Then I've been able to watch him lock down an outstanding start to his professional career, and that's been gratifying to be a part of."

Even though the 2019 Alumni-Student Summer Mentoring Program is coming to a close, Devens and Hanson see no immediate end to their mentor-mentee relationship. In fact, they hope it continues well into the future. "Where I might have otherwise been in the dark, Gordon was there to help guide me through it. He workshopped my resume, ran through mock interview questions, and talked with me about each offer I received for summer work next year so that I could find confidence in my choice," said Hanson. "I chose Michigan to become a part of its diverse network. However, I didn't realize what that meant until I joined this program. The support I found in Gordon truly speaks to the Law School's greatest strength: its alumni community." 

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