Generally, mentoring is simply the experience shared between a Mentor of “senior experience” sharing their personal, practical and specialized experiences with someone who seeks to assume that “senior position” at a later time. Specifically, The Florida Bar YLD Law Student Division aims to have experienced, competent, ethical legal professionals impart their wisdom upon law students who attend law schools in the State of Florida who wish to successfully complete law school, graduate and obtain their J.D., and pass their respective Bar Examination. Thus, mentoring is key to the professional growth of law students who aim to become experienced, competent, ethical legal professionals.
The legal profession has seemingly been resistant to mentoring programs largely due to the belief that they do not generate revenue. However, legal professionals should consider that programs such as these may lead to new attorney productivity and attrition; ultimately increasing profits, reducing errors, increasing client satisfaction, and reducing unnecessary costs related to on-going recruitment and other efforts.
In a study completed by John E. Montgomery in The Case for Law Firm Mentoring Programs, for every five lawyers a firm hires, four will leave the firm after four years. In consideration of the investment of time and resources that the professional development of a new attorney requires, it is our belief that the art of mentoring should begin while students are in law school to deepen that individual’s connections to their network, their professional encounters, and potentially, to their future employer. This effect is not only specific to law firms, as in-house legal businesses, governmental organizations, academic organizations, etc. may also be positively affected.
Effective mentoring can also give law students confidence in their skills as a law student and future lawyer. As this confidence grows, it is our hope that it will lead to an overall shift in performance at their respective law schools and on The Florida Bar Exam. Additionally, as The Florida Bar YLD Mentors are involved with these law students, recruitment and engagement efforts for individual firms are also possible; and these students-turned-associates will be likely to remain with the firm.
From the perspective of a law student, having a Mentor may serve as a way to tie in practical experiences with objectives learned in law school, may contribute to employment, and may assist the student with important practices such as organization, public speaking, researching the law, and writing the law.
It is essential to the Mentoring Program that both the Mentors and Mentees understand their roles and duties in the relationship. The aforementioned benefits of a mentoring relationship largely rely on the efforts and communication of the parties involved. Ideally, if each party gives proper commitment and is willing to remain open to the process, the relationship will serve to meet the mission and goals of The Florida Bar YLD Law Student Division’s Mentoring Program; benefiting our law students and YLD attorneys in amazing ways.
The role of a Mentor for our program is a legal professional who serves as someone who imparts wisdom, ethical character, networking abilities, interviewing skills, and other relevant skills to mold a law student into a competent, mindful attorney. During this exchange, the Mentor is also able to learn from the Mentee, stay current with active practices, and evaluate their own communication practices. An effective Mentor listens first, provides constructive feedback, and spends time and energy connecting with their Mentee.
Mentees must possess the desire to learn and willingness to continuously develop professionally. Mentees must take the initiative to contact and maintain communication with their Mentor in an effort to be proactive in their own professional development. The mentoring relationship is not a short cut to success for the Mentee, as it is not the Mentor’s responsibility to ensure their Mentee is successful. However, the mentoring relationship allows law students to gain insight into the practice of law, ethical dilemmas attorneys face, and other current practice values. Mentees may also develop new networking connections and future professional opportunities with attorneys who can help guide their career. Ultimately, upon engaging in a successful mentoring relationship, Mentees can develop more effective learning styles, more consistent and effective work products, greater career satisfaction and the enhanced ability to serve as a client’s advocate.