It's one thing to aspire to attend law school, but it's another to know how to make it there.
"I'm pre-law," sophomore Chloe Ruffel-Smith said. "And I don't know where to find good information about the application and admissions processes."
So members of the University of Miami School of Law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta (PAD), a professional service organization, have teamed up with PAD's undergraduate chapter to help students cope with a daunting stream of information.
"We have a mentorship program that pairs us with Phi Alpha Delta's UM law chapter," said Alessandria San Roman, president of the undergraduate chapter. "My mentor is absolutely phenomenal. He guides me throughout the processes I need help with, whether it's undergraduate course selection or figuring out what type of law I should go in to."
Zach Ludens, a third-year law student who guides San Roman, founded the mentorship program during his first year at Miami Law.
"There's no way you can truly know what it's like to be in law school until you've done it," Ludens said. "But having someone who's already there get to know you, what you like and what your interests are can help you make the right decisions."
Ludens, a Miami Scholar, added that the idea for a mentorship program to help undergraduate law school hopefuls was right in front of him.
"We have all of these people who want to go to law school and we do go to law school," he added. "So we partnered with the president of the undergraduate chapter of PAD at that time and started the program."
Members of the undergraduate group who sign up for a mentor get to meet with a law student for the remainder of their undergraduate career.
"Students are able to make what they want out of it," San Roman said.
There are approximately 50 members in PAD's undergraduate chapter, all of whom are eligible for the program. If there are more undergraduates than law students, some mentors will have more than one mentee.
"Members will start opting in to the process within the next couple of weeks," San Roman said. "If they would like a new mentor or decided they want a mentor after not originally opting in, they will still have an opportunity to be matched. We won't turn away any members."
How often the undergraduates and law students meet is up to them.
"I encourage mentees to meet with their mentors at the beginning of every semester, and after that determine what they want out of the mentorship," Ludens said. "A sophomore won't need to meet as often as a senior who's applying to law schools."
Apart from the mentorship program, PAD also provides undergraduate members with opportunities to hear guest speakers at the law school, sit in on some law classes, and network with local judges and attorneys.
"Phi Alpha Delta [at the undergraduate level] is focused on making sure that students are well informed about law school and the admissions process," San Roman said.
Becoming a member is not necessarily a commitment to attend law school, she said. It can also be an opportunity to determine whether law school might be right for the student.
"The big thing I make sure to tell people is to make sure you know you want to go to law school and be a lawyer," he said. "After that, the other thing is go to the school you really want to go to. Don't choose a law school just because it's the highest ranked one you got into, or because you have friends who go there. Go to the place that feels right for you."