CLEE MALFITANO’S L’21 MENTORSHIP INITIATIVE INSPIRES NEW PROGRAM
Clee Malfitano L’21 experienced the importance of mentorships and making lasting professional connections early in her collegiate career.
While an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, she founded Women in Business, a student organization focused on empowering women. Through its Mentorship Program, Women in Business connected undergraduates with Nashville businesswomen, who helped guide the undergraduates’ educational and career decisions.
When Malfitano arrived at the College of Law in 2018, she realized the doctrinal 1L courses were not structured to provide exposure to different legal career paths. “Not all students know during their 1L year what direction they want their careers to go,” she says.
Seeing a gap in providing first-year law students with more insight into what they could do with their law degree, Malfitano approached Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Affairs Sophie Dagenais and the Office of Career Services staff with an idea to apply her Women in Business model to the law school’s Corporate Law Society (CLS).
“As with all relationships, some pairings were deeper than others, but I know
some students who are still in contact with their alumni mentor on a weekly basis.”
Clee Malfitano L’21
“When I met with Dean Dagenais and the career services team, they were enthusiastic and supportive in getting the initiative started,” relates Malfitano, who was initially able to match 17 alumni with CLS members based on responses to a survey.
“The survey helped pair students with the right alum based on the knowledge and connections of Dean Dagenais,” Malfitano says. “As with all relationships, some pairings were deeper than others, but I know some students who are still in contact with their alumni mentor on a weekly basis.”
The small-scale CLS mentorship pilot helped jump-start the College’s Mentoring in Action Program, which began in the fall of 2020 by matching participating 1L students first with Syracuse Law faculty. Once 1Ls become 2Ls, they are matched with alumni mentors.
Malfitano, now a Corporate and Commercial Litigation Associate at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP in Wilmington, DE, is excited to see that—thanks in part to her CLS initiative—all Syracuse Law students have the opportunity to work with faculty and alumni mentors.
“I am looking forward to contributing to the initiative in any way I can,” she notes. So far, Malfitano happily joined the orientation program of Mentoring in Action as a panelist to help the participating students prepare for their introduction to alumni mentors.
One Leader to Another
Clee Malfitano’s L’21 success at the College of Law comes as no surprise to one of her biggest fans, her uncle, Marc Malfitano L’78
The former Board of Advisors Chair and catalyst behind the Dineen Hall building project says, “Clee is a leader and she’s exhibited that since high school, through team sports, high school trial teams, and at Vanderbilt where she established with five other students the Women in Business program that has continued beyond her tenure. I’m not surprised at all she’s been a leader and am proud of what she’s accomplished.”
Further cementing their bond was a gift that Clee gave Marc after she graduated. “She was able to get a print of my class picture and combined it with her class picture in a frame with our class years. She is my legacy, and that gift is a daily reminder. The gesture moved me and my wife, Jeanette a lot, as does the knowledge that she was able to accomplish so much at the College of Law.”
Marc is fully supportive of the mentorship initiatives at the College of Law. “Many students have not had the benefit of having a lawyer in their family to give guidance, so the more we can connect students who have experienced the same thing as they have is a great thing. It develops a legacy, and it offers perspective and a comfort level.”
A long-time adjunct professor who teaches a course in advanced real estate law each spring, Marc Malfitano was back in the classroom a semester early this year. He was invited by Chancellor Kent Syverud to co-teach the Chancellor’s popular seminar on negotiation.
“I was honored to be asked by the Chancellor based on my business and teaching and life experience background to co-teach negotiation during the first weekend of law school classes,” Marc observes. “It was a great opportunity, a lot of fun, and many of my experiences and thought processes dovetailed into what the Chancellor teaches. We plan to co-teach next year, and I am committed to doing so.”