Attorney sees mentoring benefits from both sides through the MBA

Issue September/October 2017 By Kay MacNeil

There is perhaps no better way to learn than through the help of a mentor. Just ask attorney Sara Horatius, who has seen the benefit of the mentor-mentee relationship from both sides through her involvement in several Massachusetts Bar Association programs.

A 2013 Widener University School of Law graduate and former AmeriCorps attorney, Horatius currently works as an adjunct instructor at Roxbury Community College. She credits her upbringing as the inspiration for her interest in a legal career, as well as her passion to volunteer.

Growing up, she lived in an apartment in Mattapan with her immigrant parents and her siblings. She remembers how her landlord would never fix anything that was broken or help when her apartment was infested with rodents. "I remember telling myself that I wanted to become a lawyer so that I can help people, especially immigrants [and others] who don't know the law or who are being abused by someone, whether it's their landlord or the government," she said.

Horatius is an extremely caring individual who loves to get involved in programs that help others. She first got involved at the MBA through the MBA's Practicing with Professionalism course for newly-admitted attorneys. It was there where she encountered Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela Ordoñez, who, during her keynote to the class, mentioned the MBA's Tiered Community Mentoring (TCM) program, which she founded. The program pairs high school, college and law school students with attorneys. Horatius got involved in the Tiered Community Mentoring program soon after, and it's where she learned that "mentors are one of the keys to success in life."

Serving as a mentor in the TCM program, Horatius has taken time to help her law school mentees' study and understand topics within law school that they found difficult. She shared that her favorite memory from the MBA's TCM program was from her first year of involvement, when she was able to help her law student mentee who was having trouble understanding her civil procedure class. "We studied together … and she said that was the greatest thing that anyone has ever helped her with," Horatius recalled. "She actually ended up doing well on the final."

Horatius found the MBA's Tiered Community Mentoring Program so valuable that she was inspired to try and find a mentor for herself. She found a perfect match while taking part in the MBA's inaugural Leadership Academy in 2016-17. Horatius said she enjoyed the program  immensely, thanks in large part to her mentor, past MBA President Valerie Yarashus, who took her to events and connected her with other attorneys. "It was just really great to have someone that I can relate to and we became really great friends, as well," Horatius said.

She said her Leadership Academy experience changed her from being a "bystander," to someone who now finds joy in taking on leadership roles. "[It] spark[ed] that flame in me to want to find these leadership roles, whether it's in my career, whether it's in other organizations that I am a part of, or personal things in my life."

Since graduating from the Leadership Academy, Horatius has become involved with the MBA's 2017-18 Access to Justice Section Council. She also credits the Leadership Academy experience with helping her to create programs for her students at Roxbury Community College, and to take the lead on multiple opportunities within other organizations that she is part of.

It has also inspired her to get back into the practice of law by getting on the MBA's Lawyer Referral Service list. Taking on the responsibility of cases, she said, is just another way she can put her leadership skills to use.

The MBA's Jason Scally contributed to this story.