Posted: April 27th, 2017 | By: Caitlin Herlihy
Wake Forest Law boasts a robust LL.M. program, welcoming students from across the globe to study law in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, each year. The JD Mentor Program partners LL.M. students with current JD students to provide assistance in adjusting to a new culture, language and education. Each fall, JD student volunteers are paired with a new LL.M. student based upon their backgrounds, interests and languages spoken. It was through this program that Kintaro Minami (LL.M. ’17) and Ray Dunn (JD ’18) met and forged a strong friendship.
“My life in law school became more comfortable after I met Ray, my mentor, in the beginning of fall semester,” said Kintaro Minami, who hails from Japan. “Once you make a friend that you can talk with about your experience in law school, you will feel better.”
JD student mentors offer guidance on cultural issues and answer questions about class requirements, law school exams and study practices. They also help to welcome their LL.M. mentees into the social aspects of Wake Forest Law.
“It was very beneficial because (my mentor) had a long career in Japan,” Minami said. “I could ask questions about jobs in Japan as well as in the U.S. Maybe you and your mentor will have something in common. If you want to talk, need help or have lunch, your mentor will give you time and you can share your experiences with him or her.”
The program benefits the mentor as well. JD students are exposed to relationships with international students and an increased knowledge of world affairs.
“I signed up to be a mentor because I thought it would be a great opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with an attorney from another country,” Dunn said. “Given the global nature of business and the practice of law, I saw it as a way to share cultural and substantive legal differences and similarities in a relatively informal manner.”
Through this program, many mentors have fostered lifelong friendships with their mentees.
“I don’t know that my view on international students at the law school changed, so much as it was more fully developed,” Dunn said. “I genuinely respect and admire the international students that come to the U.S. to learn about the legal system here because not only do they tackle law school in a second language, but they do it in an entirely different cultural and historical context as well. (They) bring an invaluable opportunity to share unique perspectives through mutually beneficial cross-cultural communication. And this not only makes us better lawyers, but better citizens of the world.”