Introduction has common thread

An introduction can lead to the start of a career.
At least that’s what happened to Andrew Ragsdale, a third-year student at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Ragsdale knows Chad McLain, a partner at Graves, Barkett & McLain PLLC law firm. McLain knows Briana Ross, vice president of commercial underwriting, attorney and agency manager at American Eagle Title Co.
The common thread between the trio is the law school’s mentoring program.
Ross explained the connection.
McLain wanted Ragsdale to meet her because of his interest in real estate law.
“Andrew came out dressed as though he was going on a job interview,” she said. “My job was to show him around and introduce him to the real world in this type of real estate work.”
Ragsdale returned to campus with a good impression of American Eagle Title but remained focused on completing his academic work.
A month later, he accepted a position as a law clerk to Bob Getchell, general counsel for Buffalo Abstract Co., upon two unexpected vacancies. Buffalo Abstract is part of the American Eagle Title family of companies.
Ross mentors the law student during the 16 to 20 hours he is at work every week.
Whether the position will transition into a full-time job as a real estate attorney for the firm is to be determined.
Guiding Ragsdale through the various responsibilities as a law clerk actually makes Ross’s job easier, too.
Previously, she assisted students by telephone, e-mail, occasional meetings and law school mentoring functions.
“I did not have a mentor while in law school,” she said.
The program was active for a time, she said, then just dropped off to almost nothing. As a result, Ross became a co-chair of the TU Law Alumni mentoring program three years ago.
The first year was spent in preparation, and for the past two years, students have had access to an active organization.
“I have been getting real experience outside the classroom,” Ragsdale said. “This type of work is something I really wanted to do, so when Bob called me back, I really was having a good day.”
Ross said she is enthusiastic about the mentoring program and participating law students.
“I see a lot of dedication from the law school,” she said. “Dean (Janet) Levit is supportive and is encouraging all participants.”
Attorneys in good standing with the Oklahoma Bar Association, especially alumni, are qualified to sign up, she said. Involvement generally means taking a coffee break or going to lunch with the student. Students are always seeking advice from professionals.
Efforts to match attorneys and students are paying off, Ross said. There was good crowd at a recent reception. The next, scheduled for April 1 will mark the end of the academic year, but a lot of work will continue.
The law clerk position is ideal for Ragsdale, a native of Meeker, who was involved in real estate activity before he graduated from high school.
He worked with his father, who built houses in his hometown.
“I actually started at 16 when dad started showing me as much as he could,” he said.
Ragsdale chose Oklahoma State University in Stillwater for his undergraduate studies.
Following his work as a finance major, he took a position as a commercial real estate broker in Dallas. During his time there, he decided he wanted to go to law school, all the while keeping his eye on the real estate scene.
Ragsdale used his entrepreneurial spirit as a student and purchased a triplex that he still owns. It provided housing and an income. Students now rent the house, which is located two blocks from the TU campus.
Even as a law student, Ragsdale is making plans in real estate.
He and his wife own a midtown home, a structure being renovated for resale.
From her perspective in the land title industry, Ross said mentoring law students is particularly important now as the industry prepares for major changes in the Real Estate Preservation Act that goes into effect Jan. 1.
Ragsdale already has participated in classes taught by Ross and Eva Kelley, a real estate closer and executive vice president of Buffalo Land Title Co.
Ross can be contacted about the mentoring program at 918-894-4150.

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