Mentoring: An MSBA Tradition
By Janet Stidman Eveleth
Mentoring is a tradition in the
practice of law and a cornerstone of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA).
A hallmark of the legal profession, mentoring promotes collegiality and camaraderie
between members of the Bar. It cultivates a heightened sense of professionalism
and fosters civility within the legal community. Mentoring has long been
a tradition at MSBA, where a multitude of mentoring opportunities are available
to Maryland lawyers.
MSBA provides a host of networking
and mentoring opportunities to its members through its meetings, educational
programs and special events. In the last decade, its electronic mentoring
offerings have soared in popularity as attorneys connect with one another
via MSBA’s website links and Email Lists. However, MSBA’s Mentoring
Service, now in its fifth year, has proven to be one of its most effective
mentoring programs for small firm, solo and newer MSBA members.
At one time, attorney mentoring
was the sole means of training attorneys in the practice of law. Seasoned
attorneys counseled, educated and guided their protégés as
they began their legal careers. While mentoring is an integral part of many
large law firms, small and solo practitioners, who comprise the majority
of lawyers in Maryland, often need direction and guidance but don’t
know where to turn.
For the last five years, newer
members of MSBA and small firm and solo practitioner members have found support
at MSBA’s statewide Mentoring Service. Today, this valuable member
resource offers over 300 volunteer attorney mentors who cater to new admits,
solos and other lawyers in need of assistance. These more knowledgeable and
experienced members of MSBA serve as mentors and “trusted advisors.”
In 2000, MSBA created a statewide
mentoring service to assist newer, less-experienced members. Through MSBA’s
Mentoring Service (located on the Association’s website, www.msba.org,
under exclusive member benefits), attorney “mentorees” find a
helping hand and the more experienced, seasoned mentors reap the rewards
of giving back to their profession through this pro bono effort.
This valuable statewide resource
offers new attorneys practical law office management information, insight
on personnel, escrow and billing account issues, guidance on substantive
law areas and related procedures and advice on professional conduct and ethics.
MSBA mentors answer questions and build confidence in the new attorneys.
They also involve them in Bar activities, help them develop their own support
networks and steer them clear of potential malpractice minefields.
The service is organized on a
geographic basis so new attorneys may find a mentor in their local area.
MSBA has compiled a master list of attorney volunteer mentors on a county-by-county
basis, and this information is updated every six months. Attorney mentors
have practiced for at least five years and have the background and experience
to advise and counsel new practitioners.
Attorneys seeking a mentor simply
log on to MSBA’s website, click on the Mentoring Service, go to the
desired county and view a list of available mentors in their locale. Then
they select and contact an individual attorney mentor, and the two attorneys
go from there.
After the mentor/mentoree relationship
has been initiated, the two attorneys establish the ground rules of this
confidential relationship. They decide whether the arrangement will involve
meetings and/or phone calls and determine the frequency of contact. They
also develop a rapport based on the needs and desires of both attorneys.
MSBA’s Mentoring Service
has advanced collegiality in Maryland’s legal community and mentors
and mentorees alike find this program helpful, rewarding and most enjoyable.
The mentors’ wisdom, guidance, support and insight are much appreciated
by novice attorneys. Through MSBA’s Mentoring Service, many deep bonds
of friendship have been forged that will truly last a lifetime.
MSBA encourages all interested
members to take advantage of this excellent resource. In the long run, MSBA’s
mentoring program not only assists members, it enhances civility in the entire
legal profession. Any MSBA member interested in becoming a mentor or mentoree
through MSBA’s Mentoring Service may contact Pat Yevics at (410) 685-7878