January 20, 2006
Supreme Court to pilot statewide mentoring program
Attorneys will soon be able to participate in Ohio's first-ever statewide lawyer mentoring program, the Supreme Court of Ohio announced.
The Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program is a one-year voluntary pilot program for new lawyers that is designed to help ease the transition from law school to law practice through an ongoing relationship with an experienced attorney. The program was initiated by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer and Justice Terrence O'Donnell and developed by the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, with input from law schools, bar associations and law firms throughout Ohio. The pilot project will begin in July 2006, and will be available to all interested attorneys who are admitted to the Ohio Bar in May 2006.
New attorneys who participate in the program will be able to use it to fulfill half of a new lawyer training requirement that is mandatory for all Ohio attorneys in their first year. New attorneys who complete the mentoring program will earn six credits to apply to the 12-credit New Lawyer Training Program. Attorneys who act as mentors will earn six hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credit at the completion of the program.
"The pilot project of the Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program will create dynamic ways for new lawyers to learn essential concepts of the practice of law," Moyer said. "Experienced lawyers who volunteer to mentor will be giving back to the profession, truly fulfilling our duty to improve the practice of law."
Attorneys who participate in the one-year program will complete a mentoring plan that will include at least six one-hour meetings with an experienced attorney and discussion of topics ranging from law office management and client communication to substance abuse and mental health.
All participating attorneys must meet the minimum requirements of the program, but it is designed so that individual attorneys can tailor it to fit the needs of their specific practice area and office setting. For instance, an attorney who has a solo practice in a rural area is likely to have different professional needs and interests than an attorney who concentrates in one practice area at a large law firm in a major city. Each attorney would be able to create a plan accordingly.
"Early in my career, I had the privilege of serving as a law clerk for Justice J.J.P. Corrigan of the Ohio Supreme Court and for Judge John V. Corrigan on the Ohio Court of Appeals," said O'Donnell. "Both of them were excellent mentors and I learned early on about dedication to judicial duties while simultaneously improving the legal profession by engaging in more than just case decision-making and opinion writing."
Any lawyer who volunteers to mentor must be approved by the Commission on Professionalism after it is determined that the lawyer meets minimum qualifications, including being an attorney admitted to practice in Ohio for not less than five years who is registered active in good standing with no discipline actions against the lawyer.
At the completion of the one-year pilot program, the Commission on Professionalism will evaluate the program's effectiveness and make recommendations to the Supreme Court concerning the permanent implementation of a mentoring program.
For information about the mentoring program, as well as application forms for both mentors and new lawyers, please visit www.supremecourtofohio.gov/mentoring.