Willamette Law chooses Attorney Mentor of the Year

by Sarah Carlson,

  • Salem attorney Jennifer Brown JD'08 (far right) with (l to r): 2L Brittany Sumner, 1L Will Riddell, and 3L Shelby Thomas.
    Salem attorney Jennifer Brown JD'08 (far right) stands with her Willamette Law student mentees (l to r): 2L Brittany Sumner, 1L Will Riddell, and 3L Shelby Thomas.

Salem attorney Jennifer Brown JD’08 surprised her three student mentees with how available she was to help them through their time at Willamette Law. Brown balances her job, spending time with family and participating in Oregon State Bar and other professional activities, yet she frequently makes time to meet with her students, they said.

That, and numerous other reasons, are why Willamette Law named Brown its Mentor of the Year at a reception April 5. Brown is an attorney focusing on family law, personal injury, and probate matters with Eggert & Associates. She’s been mentoring since 2010 and said she was honored to receive the award.

“When I first began mentoring, I did not know what it meant to be a mentor,” Brown said. “I listened carefully to the nominations at the spring reception and made it my goal to be the best mentor I could be. Listening to the nominations this year, it is humbling that I was chosen out of so many great mentors.”

Brown’s students, first-year Will Riddell, second-year Brittany Sumner, and third-year Shelby Thomas, nominated her for the award. Most Willamette attorney mentors are paired only with first-year students. Bev Ecklund, Placement Office coordinator, said Brown is unique in that she continues to mentor hers as they move into their second and third years, so she ends up counseling three.

Brown said she enjoys seeing students transform from nervous first-years to confident third-years and working attorneys.

“Law school is an extremely difficult time,” Brown said. “Being a mentor allows me to give back to the legal community by helping students through the process of becoming attorneys.”

Thomas has been mentored by Brown for three years and nominated her every year for the award.

“Not only does she continue to mentor me, but she also takes on a 1L mentee and retains her relationship with her 2L mentee and graduated mentees,” Thomas said. “Over the last three years, Jenny has been there for me, not only as an attorney mentor, but as a friend and confidant.”

Brown is a ‘prime example’ of how to be an attorney and still have time for family and activities, Sumner said. Riddell agreed. After working at a law office, Riddell said he saw how busy attorneys were, even at small firms. He expected his mentor to be busy with work and not have much time left over to meet.

“My presumption was entirely flipped on its head,” Riddell said. “Jennifer dove right in and was immediately prepared to work with me to start talking about my goals on day one.”

Brown has invited her mentees to her court appearances and networking opportunities, met them often for meals or coffee, and reviewed their cover letters and resumes. She has also helped them make connections and look for summer or permanent positions. All three students said she is more than just a mentor and is quick to offer help with school or personal problems.

It’s clear, Thomas said, that Brown isn’t an average mentor.

“There is no one more deserving of being Mentor of the Year."

About Willamette University College of Law

Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship and mentorship. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.

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