AALS’s mission is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. We encourage all Section Leaders to consider our core values when planning for the upcoming year. This means fostering excellence in teaching and scholarship, improving the legal profession, and offering guidance to faculty in early stages of their careers. AALS recommends each Section develop a mechanism to connect mentors with mentees for career development, leadership skills, or broader technical abilities.

Looking to be a mentor or a mentee for an AALS Section? Fill out the submission form below!


Mentor and Mentee Form

Developing a Program for Your Section

The first step before considering starting a Section Mentorship program is to answer the four following questions:

  • What do we want to achieve with this mentoring program?
  • What problems are we hoping to address?
  • What does success look like for participants and AALS?
  • What metrics do we want to measure or achieve?

Next, try to determine what mentoring style would best fit the members of your Section. There are three types:

  • Traditional – Involves a mentor and mentee meeting one-on-one and face-to-face at regular intervals. It can also involve a senior-level individual mentoring a junior-level individual with a focus on whatever the mentee wants.
  • Flash – It allows an individual to find the information they need to complete a specific task. This type of modern mentoring is focused on the time efficiency and convenience of knowledge sharing. It is also much less formal than traditional mentoring.
  • Reverse – A lot like traditional mentoring, with one-on-one sessions scheduled at regular intervals. The difference is that the junior-level individual mentors the senior-level individual.

Now you must determine what mentoring connection type you would like your Section to have:

  • Mentor and Mentee (1:1) – Mentor-mentee initiative pairs a new volunteer with their own hand-selected mentor to show them the ropes. Participants are often matched based on similarities — background, age, interests, etc. — and meet one-on-one for formal and informal sessions.
  • Peer-to-Peer -Like traditional mentor-driven ones. However, new volunteers are explicitly paired with a veteran volunteer who has a similar age or status. This arrangement can alleviate some of the pressures and vertical hierarchies innate in a mentor relationship.
  • Group – These arrangements may pair two or more new volunteers with a single, more experienced member. Or, the mentorship program can operate like a larger group meet-up, with all the fresh volunteers participating in co-training and organizational integration.

Finally, determine the duration of your Section’s mentoring program.

  • Single Session
  • 1 Month
  • 3 Months
  • 6 Months

Examples of Mentorship Programs

The Section on Criminal Justice has a mentorship match program they do every year. At the beginning of each calendar year, Section leadership sends out a call to Section members for those early career professors who would like a mentor, and those more established members who would be willing to mentor.

The Section asks the mentees for the following information:

  • a short (1-2 line) description of their scholarship;
  • the names of any people already informally mentoring them;
  • if they could choose someone as a mentor, who would it be (they can list up to 3 names and we are abundantly clear that we may not be able to match them with that person);
  • when they go up for tenure; and
  • if there are areas other than scholarship about which they would particularly like some guidance — teaching, work/life balance, faculty politics, etc.

The Section similarly asks the potential mentors to give a 1–2-line description of their scholarship and any areas outside of scholarship in which they feel they have particular expertise. Once the Section gets the list of names, they pair up the mentees with a mentor. If mentees have requested a particular mentor, they reach out to the people on their list to see if they are amenable/able to serve as a mentor. In our experience, about half the time, they are. If the mentee has not specifically requested someone, or they have but their requested mentor is not able to mentor them, they rely on the volunteers who have reached out indicating a willingness to mentor and do our best to match up by both scholarship area and the articulated areas in which the mentee would like guidance. After sending out an email regarding the pairings, the Section asks the mentors to be in touch with the mentees, and for the mentees to let the Section know if they don’t hear from the mentors.

The Section on Women in Legal Education and the Section on Balance in Well-Being in Legal Education put on Flash Mentoring Sessions at Annual Meeting and throughout the year. If your Section is interested in hosting a flash mentoring session, here is how AALS Sections have done it in the past. The Section will have to ask for two types of volunteers, flash mentors and flash mentees – this can be achieved by sending a message via the AALS Discussion List. Typically, there is one group of “flash mentors” comprised of those with 7 or more years of experience. The second group of “flash mentees” will be those with less than 7 years of experience.  Each mentor will be randomly paired with one mentee to begin, and then every 5-10 minutes, conversation partners will change in a designated order. The goal of this session is to facilitate connections between and among faculty across subject matters and viewpoints and to share experiences and new ideas. Flash Mentoring can be done via Zoom using breakout rooms. Sessions typically last 60 minutes and are not recorded. If you would like to host a session, please contact sections@aals.org.

The Section on Criminal Justice and the Section Jurisprudence put on Works-in-Progress (WIP) sessions outside of Annual Meeting. The goal of a WIP session is to provide authors with feedback, for the audience to get a quick overview of what people are working on and connect with each other as a community. If your Section is considering hosting a WIP outside of Annual Meeting here is an example of how to put one on. First, Section leaders will need to solicit a call for papers well in advance to allow time to review and consider all submissions. You can do this via the AALS Section Discussion List. Once you have a time and date in mind. Reach out to sections@aals.org to finalize the session and AALS will set up the session on Zoom. Typically, a WIP session is 60 – 90 minutes. Once the papers have been selected, notify the individuals of who will be presenting and who will not. You will need to gather individuals to offer feedback to the presenter and offer some guidelines. When hosting a session, keep in mind presentations are short to allow presenter to get feedback from more than one person. Each presenter typically has about 15 minutes to present their work and 15 minutes to hear comments from the audience, with a 30-minute total timeslot per presenter.