By Aleksan Giragosian
Earlier this year, the Armenian Bar Association re-introduced its highly-coveted, nationwide Mentorship Program. In January, perched high in a magnificent skyscraper in the historic Bunker Hill section of downtown Los Angeles, the Association held a dazzling Kick-off Reception at the elegant offices of Reed Smith.
The Mentorship Program matches law students with practicing attorneys to help students navigate the twists and turns of law school, learn more about the practicalities of the profession, meet the challenges of an unpredictable job market, and make community service a welcomed priority. The event brought together approximately 50 attorneys with an even greater number of law students.
Saro Kerkonian, the Chair of the Armenian Bar, captured the spirit of the evening by expressing: “It seems like it was just yesterday, but it was 27 years ago that the Armenian Bar Association’s eternal flame of service to our Homeland and its Diaspora was sparked and kindled in me. That fire still burns hot and bright and it is our responsibility now as the Association’s leaders to create the circumstances and foster the relationships which will allow for the torch to be passed to the limitless potential of our student members.”
In the coming months, the Association will match dozens more students and lawyers across the United States. A number of factors are taken into consideration in determining pairings. “First, we match them geographically to facilitate face-to-face interactions, then by legal interest, and then by school,” said Lucy Varpetian, Senior Assistant City Attorney at the City of Glendale and one of the organizers of the program. Ms. Varpetian harkened back nearly twenty years in sharing memories of grace and lessons of guidance from her own mentor, Governor George Deukmejian.
The response among students has been overwhelmingly positive and energetic, as the number of students signed up for the Mentorship Program exceeds the number of currently-available mentors. To bridge this gap, some mentors have taken on multiple mentees. Arteen Mnayan, a third-year student from Loyola Law School, stated that he signed up for the Mentorship Program because he wants to meet fellow Armenian-American students and attorneys in a more personalized setting. According to Arteen, “Unlike other networking events, I felt like I could just be myself without having to put on a superficial, professional front. It was the most casual yet meaningful bar association program that I’ve ever attended.”
The Association requests that participants in the mentorship program interact with their respective mentor/mentee four times a year. Interactions are often and usually in-person, but may also take place by phone or via email. When asked why he chose to be a mentor, Pavel Ekmekchyan, then a partner at Reed Smith and the chief in-house organizer of the beautiful reception, responded, “I feel that sharing my personal experiences with mentees establishes and nurtures a sense of communal success and progression that I value and enjoy very much.”
Students and attorneys interested in participating in the Mentorship Program are encouraged to apply directly through the Association’s website at www.ArmenianBar.com. All inquiries about the Mentorship Program may be directed to MentorProgram@ArmenianBar.com.