Each student at the School of Law is paired with a mentor who helps them gain a truly personal view of the legal profession. Over the course of three years, students build meaningful relationships with members of the bench and bar. Students harness the wisdom and insight of experienced members of the profession and, in turn, bring energy, passion and excitement to seasoned professionals. More than 500 Minnesota lawyers and judges volunteer their time to serve as mentors to our 479 students. On the following pages, meet some of these powerful partners.
Judith M. Rush, Attorney at Law, P.C. Rebecca Ribich ’05, Founding Partner; Brekke, Clyborne and Ribich, L.L.C.What started as a mentoring relationship six years ago has continued as a friendship.
Solo practitioner Judith Rush was assigned to mentor Rebecca Ribich, then a 3L, during the 2004-2005 school year. “I was very impressed with her plan for a practice,” Rush said.
“I remember how scary it was to start a solo practice,” Ribich said. She consulted with Rush, as she has many times since they met. Rush even counseled Ribich on a custody hearing her first year as a lawyer. Ribich noted that she was flattered when Rush asked her to handle a default hearing in Anoka County recently. Rush responded, “She did an excellent job and the client was very happy.”
Early in their relationship, Rush and Ribich recognized common professional goals as small-firm practitioners in family law, and they found a connection sharing personal stories.
“She’s just a great example of the consummate professional,” Ribich said about her mentor. As an example, she cited witnessing Rush at a hearing where one of the participants may have been less than sane. “I just remember how graceful she was with this slightly crazy guy,” Ribich said. Rush added that during that hearing, a sheriff’s deputy had been assigned to stand right outside the door.
From those mentor experiences, a longtime relationship has formed. “We are colleagues, and we were colleagues from the beginning,” Rush said.
Sam Myers, Partner, Myers Thompson, P.A.Marie Reigstad, Third-Year Student
Sam Myers’ best trait as a mentor is that he is candid and shares as much as he can about all aspects of the profession, according to his protégé Marie Reigstad.
Myers and the students who are assigned to be his protégés enjoy spending time together. They talk openly about a wide range of professional topics, from immigration law to contacts in North Dakota. Through dialogue, they find a shared vision for the profession and the Mentor Externship Program.
“I hope students feel that they received an honest, realistic and useful picture of what it is to be a practicing lawyer,” Myers said. “I hope that I have helped them make the daily decisions of balancing professional and personal life, and that they understand the importance of ethical behavior and pride in their professionalism.”Myers has been a mentor for six years, and this year he also had a second protégé, Katie Perleberg, a second-year law student. Because of Myers work in immigration law and his outstanding reputation in the profession, both Reigstad and Perleberg requested to work with him. Myers, Reigstad and Perleberg agree they worked as a team this year.
“This mentor experience was successful because Marie and I were genuinely interested in the work Sam does, and Sam was genuinely interested in helping us grow as law students and professionals,” Perleberg said.
Joe Borer, First-Year Law StudentGene H. Hennig, Principal; Gray, Plant, Mooty
Joe Borer and Gene Hennig both like to coach; Borer, a law student, coaches baseball players and Hennig, a mentor, coaches law students.
“I’ve always liked being around law students,” Gene Hennig said. “The whole deal of teaching is to have a mark on people, and I hope I’ve done that.”
Teaching and mentoring help keep him fresh, Henning said. Students bring energy, passion and excitement to the profession, characteristics he finds contagious for many seasoned lawyers. At the same time, Hennig brings the culmination of more than 30 years of insight and knowledge that students can obtain only from a top-flight lawyer.
“Now I have a better view of the profession and all it entails,” Joe Borer said. “And I’ll be a better lawyer for it.”
When they met, Hennig arranged for Borer to shadow him at work and took him to lunch – the first of several such meetings. They were quick to connect over easy banter, and the ease of communication signaled the opportunity for long-term engagement.
Hennig is a founding mentor in the Mentor Externship Program and has worked with more than 10 students since 2001. When he mentors his students, he does so with a good sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye.
Jacqueline Rubi, First-Year Law StudentJudge Miriam Rykken, Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals
“This experience made me feel like I’m joining a community, not just a career,” Jacqueline Rubi said of her mentor experience with Judge Miriam Rykken. Rubi admits, however, that at the beginning she was very nervous about how it would all turn out.
“When I received my mentor information I was terrified; I had never met a judge before and every judicial impression I had was from TV,” Rubi said. She practiced what she would say in a voice mail. Rubi assumed that a judge would be much too busy to answer the phone, but all that practice was for nothing. “Of course, she answered,” Rubi said. “Her approach- ability and kindness immediately impressed me and set me at ease.”
According to Rubi, she learned a key lesson at an American Bar Association event to which Judge Rykken invited her. During the event, Rubi was approached time and again and told how lucky she was to have Rykken as a mentor. Even though Rykken and Rubi could both be described as “a bit shy,” according to Rubi, she noted that at the event it was “encouraging to see that making the effort to become connected and get involved were well worth it, and that warmth and authenticity are amply appreciated in the legal community.”
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