When Jason LeBlanc JD’19 chose to pursue law school, the decision was a big one — he was the first in his family to do so, moving far from home in Colorado.
But after he was paired with mentor Rebecca Kueny JD’13, he was “amazed by her unconditional support of students and future lawyers,” he said in his Mentor of the Year nomination letter.
Law school can be a harsh environment sometimes, he said, but Kueny encouraged him to keep going.
“Whether it was answering my late-night phone calls or helping me in my summer work, Rebecca acted above and beyond the call of duty,” he said.
At a reception April 4, Willamette Law named Kueny Mentor of the Year. The award is named after late Oregon Supreme Court Justice Edward H. Howell, who became active in the college’s student mentoring program after he retired.
Willamette Law also honored two other mentors with the Hon. Mary Mertens James Award — Salem attorney and last year’s Mentor of the Year Nani Apo JD’13 and Allison Boomer JD’09, a magistrate judge for the Oregon Tax Court — with the Hon. Mary Mertens James Award. The award is given only to five-time nominees for Mentor of the Year.
Kueny, who specializes in elder law at her own law firm in Salem, says the recognition is meaningful because she doesn’t always know how she affects people. But she remembers every person who changed her career trajectory.
“I know the person who rooted for me when I was taking the LSAT to get into law school, and I know the many people who gave me guidance about what classes to take and what to do with my summers,” she said. “There’s no way I would be here without those people, and I am glad that I was there for the people I’ve mentored. My biggest hope is that everyone else in law school does the same for their community.”
LeBlanc said that he feels incredibly fortunate to have been one of Kueny’s mentees.
“Recommending (her) for Mentor of the Year is but only a start in thanking her for her time and support,” he said. “I hope to honor Rebecca in striving to become a strong mentor myself some day.”