LEOP and Airbnb Forge New Diversity Collaboration

UC Hastings Law took its mock interview training program to a new level this year, thanks to growing alumni engagement and a new collaboration with Airbnb’s legal department targeting students from diverse backgrounds.

Forty students from the school’s Legal Education Opportunity Program, which aims to make legal education accessible to students from adverse backgrounds, met one-on-one over Zoom with lawyers who work in-house at Airbnb, said Koreen Kelleher, director of the alumni mentor program.

The school paired each student with an Airbnb lawyer at a virtual event on February 4. The attorneys quizzed the students on a series of interview questions and provided quick resume feedback. There were 20 lawyers, with each completing two sessions to accommodate all 40 students.

The program built on the success of UC Hastings’ January mock interview program, which grew by 20% this year, Kelleher said, with the increased participation of alumni.

The Airbnb collaboration was initiated by three lawyers active in their legal department’s diversity inclusion committee. The company has a summer internship program open to law students, but Ben Lee, Meredith Levins, and Jacqueline Kwok were looking into ways to expand that pipeline.

“It was very valuable and fun to be able to interact with the students,” Levins said. “What we’re trying to do is establish more touch points like this, with the LEOP program in particular.”

LEOP Program Director Elizabeth McGriff said the program “provided vital professional development benefits to further empower students to pursue their professional goals and maximize their potential.”

“The mock interview event,” she said, “reinforced the essential training and support that are among the key cornerstones of the Legal Education Opportunity Program’s approach to fostering students’ growth holistically to achieve excellent academic and professional outcomes.”

Roswald Morales, 3L, said he thoroughly enjoyed the program and found his assigned attorney welcoming and kind. “I received amazing feedback and compliments,” he said. “I left the interview feeling passionate, confident with my interview skills, and proud to own my narrative.”

Kelleher said it’s more important than ever for students to be well-prepared in remote interviewing, as these skills will continue to be important at least for the short term and possibly longer.

“It was nice to join together in a pandemic and still find community with our corporate neighbors,” Kelleher said. “We’re really trying to meet the moment for our students, and we’re grateful to Airbnb and all the other community partners who have stepped up to help.”