Monday, February 26, 2018

Forging Meaningful Relationships with Professors

It’s easy to be in awe of your professors from the very first day of law school. After all, you know nothing; they occupy a level of expertise you’d be lucky to attain years after you graduate. And that expertise sort of emanates from them like an aura. Whether it’s a torts, criminal law, or civil procedure class – sometimes you feel lucky just to be in the same room with them.

Of course, professors are not only the sharpest of legal minds and diligent teachers but also well-connected in the legal community. Add that up and you’ve got at least three reasons to try to get a little face-to-face time with them.

All that considered, I never really forged a relationship with my professors until this semester. And that’s for the reasons you’d expect – I was one of 70 other students lining up at my professor’s door; I didn’t have anything to say to them that was more interesting than anyone else did; most of all, I was busy enough trying to keep up with my readings without trying to make small talk with someone who has exponentially more knowledge as me.

But when I finally did develop a kind of mentor-mentee relationship with a professor, it worked because it was a teacher who could actually give me very specific advice I could use. As far as my own law school trajectory, I’m thinking more and more about the intersection of public interest and housing law. After all, housing – including such prodigious issues as homelessness and sustainable development – is probably the most pressing problem we face in Los Angeles right now. When I realized there was a professor on campus who I could talk to very specifically about that path, I found a person who was willing to not only be a sounding board, but also who would could help me shape my next two-and-a-half years at Loyola.

And that’s the key, I suppose, to really finding a mentor among the faculty at Loyola – or, I would assume, any other law school. Seek out the professors who’ve done exactly what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to follow their lead.

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