With social distancing keeping people physically apart, it's more important than ever to maintain our connections to each other.
That’s the goal of the UB Law Alumni Association and the many alumni volunteers who are working with the law school to keep alums in touch with each other, with the school and with our students.
“We have 12,000 alumni across the country and the world, and our hope now is to keep them all as closely connected as possible,” says Ilene Fleischmann, vice dean for alumni and executive director of the UB Law Alumni Association. “We can’t have face-to-face meetings, so we’re doing even more online in order to be much more inclusive.”
An important role that alumni play is in mentoring current students, a service perhaps more important now than ever. “Our students are in transition,” Fleischmann says. “We want to support their transition to distance learning and give them all the support and resources they need to build a culture of mentorship.”
That includes reaching out to the 100 or so alumni mentors assigned to first-year students and asking them to reach out to their mentees to offer support. The School of Law is joining UB’s online mentoring platform, Career Connectors, that allows students and alumni nationwide to register their information and then enables students to connect with alumni in a particular practice area or geographical region.
The Law Alumni Association is also moving its Power Hour networking lunches online. Its initial Zoom session featured a panel of alumni discussing how students can use this enforced at-home time to develop and maintain their professional contacts. The audience has been broadened to include all current students, not just LAA student members.
“It’s essential that our alumni continue to participate in our law school community,” Fleischmann says. “They can continue to network, albeit virtually, and the Law Alumni Association wants to go the extra mile to help them in any way we can. We’re busier than ever.”
LAA members also have access to productivity and professional development tools that may make it easier to do good work in hard circumstances. These include a discount on the voice-to-text software Dragon Legal; discounted access to the online continuing legal education provider Cognistar; and free access to the premier HeinOnline legal database. [View all LAA Membership Benefits]
Dean Aviva Abramovsky, a frequent in-person visitor to the LAA’s regional alumni chapters, will continue that engagement by offering virtual “lunches with the dean,” where she will update alums on what’s happening at the law school and answer questions.
The GOLD Group, comprising alumni who’ve graduated in the last decade, is continuing with its CLE series by sponsoring two online CLE events this spring, says Meghan A. Corcoran ’13, GOLD Group president. The events are geared toward issues related to the pandemic. The first, scheduled for April 17, will discuss force majeure as it relates to contract law [Register Here]; the second, in May, covers insurance issues stemming from force majeure events.
Corcoran says it’s an attempt to make good educational opportunities available at affordable prices in a battered economy. “Things are tight at law firms even now, and we’re not sure what the duration of this crisis will be,” she says. “We’re trying to help younger alumni who may be experiencing some sort of employment jeopardy. If we can give free CLEs, that’s one small thing we can do.”
Also in professional education, the Rochester alumni chapter is presenting a CLE called Let’s Get Ethical: A Roundup of Common Ethical Pitfalls on April 22nd in partnership with the Monroe County Bar Association. It’s free for paid LAA members. [Register Here]
The biggest adjustment, says Scott C. Becker ’93, Law Alumni Association president, has been the need to postpone the group’s annual spring dinner, the major fund-raiser for its scholarship assistance efforts. The LAA board is discussing whether and when to reschedule the event.
They had been having a great year, he says, with an appearance in August by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a successful Edwin F. Jaeckle Award presentation in New York City, and several CLE events. Now they’re working online with the goal of continuing to build community among UB School of Law alumni.
“Our board is meeting virtually,” Becker reports, “and we’ll be reaching out to all of our members. If there’s some way the alumni association can be helpful in networking or connecting people during this time, please get in touch with us.”
To contact the UB Law Alumni Association, call 716-645-2107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.