Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : October 2005

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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 or pyevics@msba.org.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: October 2005

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