The Mentorship Between Journal Editors-In-Chief

The Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law, founded by Silicon Flatirons Executive Director Phil Weiser, has been fortunate to have many exceptional editors in chief during the seven years since it began.

The Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law, founded by Silicon Flatirons’ Executive Director Phil Weiser, has been fortunate to have many exceptional editors in chief during the seven years since it began. In particular, Lisa Neal-Graves, who graduated in 2006 and is now a business and technology attorney for Intel Corporation in Oregon, brought a great deal of strong leadership to the Journal as well as the Law School. Lisa has also been an influential mentor for the new editor in chief, Hiwot Molla, who is about to begin her third year at Colorado Law with a background in bioengineering and biochemistry.

This mentorship began when Lisa met Hiwot at an alumni event organized by the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) and the Dean’s Office. While a student at Colorado Law, Lisa was president of BLSA and had a goal of organizing an event where students and successful African American lawyers and judges would have the opportunity to network and build mentorships. The following fall of 2007, Hiwot became the next BLSA co-president and put Lisa’s goal into action by helping to organize an alumni event for BLSA honoring African American judges. When Lisa met Hiwot at this event, she felt her mission was accomplished. She knew immediately that the opportunity to mentor Hiwot made the event worthwhile. The two immediately clicked and Lisa quickly became Hiwot’s mentor through her law school experience. Lisa was so impressed with Hiwot she nominated her for the Sam Cary Bar Association Scholarship, which Hiwot won. Through stressful times Lisa was there for Hiwot and was able to offer the kind of support that comes from having many similarities and a common bond.

Lisa became editor in chief of the Journal to improve her legal writing skills, gain knowledge through working with authors, and expose herself to articles about technology law. She encouraged Hiwot to run for editor in chief as well, because the Journal offers experience and knowledge that no course can provide. In the spring of 2008, Hiwot was elected editor in chief and has begun her new leadership role.

Both Lisa and Hiwot have technical backgrounds, and their experiences in the field imparted a strong desire to go to law school. For Lisa, working in new product development at Bell Laboratories as well as UNISYS Corporation and having many discussions with internal lawyers led to an understanding that law is essential to selling products/services and a law degree in the technology world could be very valuable. For Hiwot, working to develop company-wide procedures for Ball Aerospace made her realize the importance of intellectual property law, which encouraged her to go to law school. Interestingly, both relied on the mentorship of others while making this life transition.

Lisa has been an exceptional mentor to Hiwot and says she learned the importance of mentorship from people who shared their knowledge and experience with her. She described Phil Weiser as a mentor extraordinaire. Lisa met Professor Weiser while she was deciding to go to law school, and he suggested she reach out to anyone in her network that is currently practicing law about her decision. Phil not only mentored Lisa through the law school admissions process, but helped her to develop a network of practicing attorneys. This network soon included Judge Claudia Jordan, the first African American woman on the bench in Colorado, as well as Judge Wiley Daniel, the first African American Federal Judge, both of whom are influential mentors for her as well. Lisa stated, “The knowledge of law is truly developed from mentorship. Many law students graduate and think they know the law. But law is practice, and to start practicing, one needs to talk about it with people that have experiences to share.”

Lisa has been in several leadership roles and views being a strong leader as the ability to serve others. A strong leader knows what needs to get done and can manage internal relationships without being a dictator. A leader will rise to the occasion and come up with a plan to accomplish what needs to be done. As a leader, Hiwot finds that trust is the most important quality. It is important to her that her community of students trusts her enough that they will come to her when they have a problem. Lisa’s advice for Hiwot when she graduates is to pay it forward and go after the unthinkable. Indeed, Hiwot has already begun mentoring an upcoming law student, and will no doubt go after the unthinkable throughout her life.

Silicon Flatirons is thankful for Lisa and Hiwot’s contributions to the program, the Journal, Colorado Law and society.

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