Mentoring Program Leads to Friendship and a Job

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Andrea Long and Deanna ScottAndrea Long (JD ’10) was hesitant to participate in the TU College of Law’s mentoring program as a 2L. She wanted to return to her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, to practice law, and she assumed the Professional Development Office would match her with a Tulsa attorney.

She decided to participate, and to her pleasant surprise she was matched with a mentor in Springfield: Deanna Scott (JD ’97), the Director of Litigation at Legal Services of Southern Missouri (LSSM), which provides representation to the low-income and elderly in civil matters in a region of 43 counties. On a visit home, Scott and Long met for what turned into a two-hour lunch.

“We immediately hit it off and became friends right away,” Scott said. “Andrea and I had a lot in common. We both grew up in small towns in Missouri. We were adopted as infants. We were interested in family law. And of course we attended the TU College of Law. We’ve become good friends.”

On other trips to Springfield, Long shadowed Scott at work, and they stayed in touch by phone and e-mail. This led to a summer clerkship for Long at LSSM. Under Missouri law, a 2L is permitted to handle motions and hearings under the supervision of a licensed attorney, so Long received valuable hands-on experience during her clerkship.

After Long graduated, LSSM hired her in the summer of 2010 as a clerk until she passed the bar exam. Once Long passed, she became a staff attorney at LSSM. Long now handles a full load of juvenile court cases and some family law.

“My previous clerkship with Deanna really helped because I did a lot of juvenile cases that summer,” Long said. “So when I was hired full time, I was better prepared to understand what I was doing. I was able to hit the ground running.”

Long spends a good deal of her busy work schedule representing parents who have had their children taken away from them.

“I always knew I wanted to do something involving children,” Long said. “I was adopted when I was three weeks old. The lady who was my guardian ad litem, Linda Thomas, is still practicing law, and I see her all the time. I grew up knowing a lawyer had helped me. I wanted to know what she did.”

The mentoring program is designed to provide students with learning experiences in different areas of the law and insight into the life of a practicing lawyer. Law students are matched with a legal professional based on practice setting, practice area, or geographical area of interest to the student.

Despite the job offer that ultimately resulted from Long’s participation in the program, she urges students not to go into it looking for a job. “Look to learn,” Long said.

Scott encourages law students to participate in the mentoring program.

“It can do nothing but benefit law students,” Scott said. “There is so much practical knowledge they can obtain. And especially in this economy, it is particularly important to make contacts. In small cities the size of Springfield and Tulsa, word of mouth and getting to know people is very important in job hunting and in the daily practice of law.”

This was Scott’s first time as a legal mentor, and the positive experience has left her open to doing it again.

“It would be hard to top Andrea,” Scott said. “I don’t know that all mentor-mentee relationships are this successful, but this one definitely was.”

Scott Been