This year’s USC Gould Mentor Lunch gave deeper meaning to the term Trojan Family.
Joseph Porter III ’71, a regular at the annual event who also serves on the board of the USC Gould School of Law alumni association, arrived this year with his son, Joseph Porter IV, a first-year student.
While Porter senior confessed that this year’s lunch felt more special because of his son’s presence, he quickly added: “Do you want to know the real reason I’m here? It keeps me young. I work in copyright litigation, and I always pick up something about trends and new platforms.”
The lunch offers a premier opportunity for first-year law students seeking practical advice about pursuing a legal career.
Students are grouped with USC Gould alumni at assigned tables based on shared interests, such as international, corporate, entertainment, government or public interest law.
This year’s event, held at Town & Gown on Feb. 25, drew 320 students and alumni who represented class years from 1967-2014 and filled the room with courtroom anecdotes and litigation war stories, but above all, camaraderie.
It’s up to you students to best take advantage of the people sitting next to you.
Robert K. Rasmussen
“No other law school can throw an event like this because we have the best alumni network of any law school in the country,” Dean Robert K. Rasmussen told the crowd, which broke into applause. “But it’s up to you students to best take advantage of the people sitting next to you. Going forward, it’s on you to maximize your experience today.”
Where to go
That’s just what Rick Zou was doing at his table, where the focus was international law.
I feel like I’m making relationships that will last for a long time.
“I’m not just learning about what to do with my career, I’m getting specific advice on where I should work this summer,” he said. “Plus I feel like I’m making relationships that will last for a long time.”
For the mentors, it can feel gratifying to know that they can “pay it forward by helping students starting out in their legal careers,” said Karen Wong ’86, who is chairing the 2015 Law Firm Challenge.
“Students can ask questions and seek advice in a friendly environment from someone who genuinely wants to help, and they can ask questions that they may not necessarily feel comfortable asking in a formal interview setting. They can ask things like: ‘How do you balance your family and work life as a woman lawyer?’”
This was Omar Noureldin’s first Mentor Lunch as an actual mentor. Not so long ago, he was a 1L seeking practical advice. Now an attorney with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Noureldin remembers the lunch was useful for “normalizing the process” of becoming a lawyer. This year, he relished his new role, sharing with the 1Ls at his table (who focused on entertainment law) what “job opportunities there are for people fresh out of law school and what the industry is really like.”
It turns out, even mentors need mentors.
Lee Tsao ’96 has attended the lunch for years. He said that mentors have played a vital role in his career — from the time he was a fledgling attorney to his appointment last year as Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
“I love mentoring young lawyers and students,” he said. “Mentors are important for them but also for practicing attorneys. I have always had a mentor. I have one today as a new judge. It’s wonderful to be able to confide and get advice from a mentor.”