The State Bar Association of North Dakota Fall 2014 Gavel Magazine - Page 20

THE BENEFITS OF SBAND’S NEW MENTORSHIP PROGRAM KARA J. JOHNSON Attorney at Law, Zuger Kirmis & Smith “Why should I get a mentor?” “Why should I be a mentor?” These questions frequently come up when considering participation in a mentorship program. Before, the answer to both questions had always been the same – it makes you a better lawyer. Now, with participation in SBAND’s new mentorship program, there is another answer – to get CLE credit! When SBAND began developing a mentorship program, research showed that the vast majority of successful programs provided an incentive for participation by awarding CLE credit to both the mentees and the mentors. Because the experienced lawyers are essentially teaching a CLE by serving as mentors and the young lawyers are learning during the mentorship sessions, the CLE Commission has approved CLE for both the mentor and the mentee participating in SBAND’s mentorship program through the adoption of CLE policy 1.21. For each reporting period, a lawyer may earn up to 15 credits, a third of the required CLEs, for participating. The policy is designed to allow credit for involvement for multiple years. The mentor/mentee pairings are matched for a period of one year and it is recommended that the pairing spend a total of at least eight hours together, six of which are eligible for CLE credit. While CLE credit cannot be given for all topics covered within the mentorship program, and it likely will not account for all of the time the pairing spends working together, the credit is intended to be an acknowledgment of the importance and value of mentorship relationships. Because CLE credit is provided, the mentorship program needed structure and accountability. The SBAND Mentorship Committee was careful to balance these needs with the ability to cater to the 20 THE GAVEL interests of the individual mentorships. For purposes of CLE compliance, the mentorship program handbook provides the mentor/mentee pairings with an agreement for participation, tracking records for substantive areas discussed, and a certification for the mentor to sign upon completion of the program. These completed documents should be sent to SBAND for the pairing to receive CLE credit. The introduction and instructions sections of the mentorship handbook outline how the program works. The instructions explain that each pairing must cover the topics of introduction to the legal community, public service and bar programs, rules of professional conduct and standards of professionalism and civility, work-life balance, and working with clients. It is then recommended that the pairing choose an additional three optional sections to complete based on the interests and experience of the pairing. The optional sections cover practice areas and include civil litigation, family law, criminal law and procedure, personal injury/insurance law, employment law, oil and gas law, real property law, collection law, probate, and transactional law. While the introduction and instructions provide some basic guidelines, the mentorship pairing will still need to make a plan regarding how they want their mentorship relationship to work, including how they want to communicate, what optional topics they want to cover, and what sections of the outline the pair will address. Within each section’s outline, it is recommended that each pairing participate in or discuss some, but not all, of the outline subsections. This is important to note because some people become overwhelmed by the amount of topics included within the outlines. The outlines are intended to prompt discussions between the mentors/mentees, while allowing the pairing the ability to tailor the program. The mentor does not need to be familiar with all of the possible subject areas addressed within the program handbook. Mentors can enlist assistance from their friends and colleagues within the bar, but are only eligible for CLE credit for the portions in which they personally participate. If mentors have another member of the bar assist them in the mentorship, it should be noted by the mentor and mentee on their outlines. To serve as a mentor, the attorney must have been licensed for five years or more and have a current North Dakota license. A mentee can be any attorney who has been licensed in North Dakota for five years or less.The mentor and mentee applications, along with the mentorship handbook, are available online on SBAND’s website. The Mentorship Committee understands that it has not addressed all sub