In 2012, the San Joaquin County Bar Association established a mentorship program. The program's purpose is to elevate the competence, professionalism, and success of the local Bar through engagement with each other. Mentoring is a two-way street: it allows the experienced attorney to provide professional guidance and share practical knowledge, and it provides the newer attorney with someone to ask questions of and learn from during a particularly vulnerable time in his or her career.
The worth of mentoring is often undervalued or misunderstood. Mentoring helps cultivate leadership skills one-on-one in real time, reduces anxiety in taking big steps, and focuses attorneys on achieving personal or professional goals. Mentoring relationships contribute to a sense of integrity in the legal profession, promote collegial relationships and involvement in the Bar, improve civility and professionalism, and encourage the use of the best practices and highest ideals in the practice of law.
The mentorship relationship can be customized to match the needs and availability of the specific individuals. There is no "right" or "perfect" way to create the mentor relationship. One of the beauties of it is the ability to do what works for both the mentor and mentee. If that means having coffee once a quarter, emailing each other questions, or attending networking events together, then that is how the relationship develops and grows. The underlying point is that newer attorneys have others to connect with when they need it.
There is no "right" or "perfect" way to create the mentor relationship. One of the beauties of it is the ability to do what works for both the mentor and mentee. If that means having coffee once a quarter, emailing each other questions, or attending networking events together, then that is how the relationship develops and grows.
The SJCBA recognized the need among the increasing number of new lawyers practicing in San Joaquin County and, with its vast supply of experienced lawyers, created the mentorship program to create invaluable positive relationships.
Since its inception, the SJCBA's mentorship program has had dozens of participants, countless of whom have greatly benefitted from the program. The benefits are mutual: mentors often comment that they feel they get more from the relationship than the mentee. More participants are needed, however, to continue to expand the benefits of this program.
Throughout the year, the Bar accepts applications to be a mentor or mentee. Attorneys can apply anytime. Applications can be downloaded from the SJCBA's website. The only requirements to participate in the mentorship program are as follows:
- Must be a member of the San Joaquin County Bar Association.
- Mentees must be law students or licensed attorneys who have practiced law for fewer than five years.
- Mentors must be licensed attorneys who have practiced law for more than seven years.
Applicants' preferences will be considered, and mentors will receive an email identifying the mentees with whom they have been paired. The rest is up to the mentor and mentee to define the relationship that works for the both of them.
The mentorship program is aimed to be informal in nature to allow the participants to customize their professional relationship to suit their needs, interests, and availability. The mentorship guidelines include:
- Communication once per month (whether via email, telephone, or in person).
- Foster relationships among other local attorneys and other SJCBA members.
- Address the importance of professionalism, civility, and high ethics in all dealing.
- Provide feedback on the mentorship program when asked by the SJCBA.
The SJCBA's goal is to ensure that everyone who wants a mentor has access o one, and can participate. It is a great benefit of Association membership. Please consider participating in this truly priceless program.
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." ― Benjamin Franklin