Loyola Magazine

Finding female mentorship in the legal profession

Two Loyola students share how their Messina professor guided them toward professional success
Andrea Giampetro-Meyer, Janae James, and Sydney Brooke pose for a photo in the Sellinger building
Pictured from bottom left: Andrea Giampetro-Meyer, J.D., professor of law and social responsibility, Janae James, ’22, and Sydney Brooke, ’23. Photo credit: John Coyle, ’88.

When Andrea Giampetro-Meyer, J.D., professor of law and social responsibility in the Sellinger School of Business and Management, met Sydney Brooke, ’23, and Janae James, ’22, she quickly recognized individuals who would benefit from goal-oriented experiential learning.

“They both wanted something meaningful to do,” Giampetro-Meyer says of Brooke and James, who were enrolled in her Messina class as part of Loyola's first-year living and learning program.

The COVID-19 pandemic collided with Brooke’s and James’ first year at Loyola, and summer work and internship opportunities vanished for most students.

Giampetro-Meyer invited them to join her in a legal writing project in the summer of 2020, which produced a law review article published in The University of Iowa Journal of Race, Gender & Justice. The article, “How Antiracist Lawyers Can Produce Power and Policy Change,” lists both Brooke and James as contributors—a milestone accomplishment for any undergraduate student.

“In every interview I’ve had, the piece on my résumé that stands out is being published,” Brooke explains.

The following summer, in 2021, the three of them teamed up again to co-author “Toward Racially Equitable and Accountable Tech” for the Marquette Law Review.

It was clear from the beginning that Professor Giampetro-Meyer wanted to actively knock down barriers related to being a woman in the classroom and in law school.

Both students have looked to Giampetro-Meyer for career advice as they explored the field, taking advantage of the natural ways that Messina offers opportunities for students to connect with faculty.

“She knows the legal world, and it’s been very affirming knowing she’s in my corner,” says Brooke, who grew up in Boxford, Massachusetts, and was always conscious about how being female would influence her life and career. “It was clear from the beginning that Professor Giampetro-Meyer wanted to actively knock down barriers related to being a woman in the classroom and in law school.”

For James, her experience and relationship with Giampetro-Meyer has elevated her as a future law school applicant, particularly when it comes to being involved with a school’s law journal. “I already know about the process, the format, the ins and outs,” she explains.

James—a Middletown, Connecticut, native who earned her B.A. in Psychology and Writing and a minor in political science in December 2022—was involved with Loyola’s pre-law advisory program, served as secretary of the student-led Pre-Law Society, and held a Congressional Internship with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. She now works as a legal assistant at Ledyard Law in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, gaining valuable field experience before she begins law school.

Brooke has also benefited from Loyola’s pre-law program; she serves as president of the Pre-Law Society and is a member of the Alpha Sigma Nu and Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies. Brooke, who interned with ACLU Maryland’s legal department, will graduate with a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in business administration in May 2023 and has her sights set on law school.

“It’s hard to put into words how much Professor Giampetro-Meyer has touched my life—but I hope she knows. [She’ll] always hold a special place in my heart and be a core memory of my experience here at Loyola,” says James, who adds that she hopes to pay it forward someday.

“Knowing I can impact someone's life the way she has impacted mine is so exciting, and I cannot wait to embark on that role someday.”