Ohio Judicial Family Network Mentoring Program

The Mentor and Mentoring

Leslie Fine, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, The Max M. Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, and
Judith B. Fountain, Assistant Vice-Provost for Women's Policy Initiatives and Director, The Women's Place, The Ohio State University.

A mentor is someone with experience related to the role who is willing to share that experience with someone new in the role.

  1. Issues and feelings judicial spouses may encounter.

    1.1 Job change required for the spouse due to conflict of interest issues related to the judgeship.

    1.2 Isolation due to the changing nature of relationships with attorney friends and others in the community.

    1.3 Financial adjustments if the judicial salary is lower than the former salary.

    1.4 Support of children being raised in the "public eye" (security, media, peer relationships, family relationships).

    1.5 Security for the family away from the courthouse.

    1.6 Campaign recovery.

    1.7 Media attention.

    1.8 Inappropriate comments and questions about cases and politics from family and friends.

  2. The mentor's basic goal is to help the mentee deal with issues in a non-emotional way. Rather than respond immediately to the mentee's situation, the mentor should:

    2.1 Stop.

    2.2 Step back.

    2.3 Detach.

    2.4 Analyze.

  3. To clarify the mentee's issues, the mentor should ask her/himself the following questions.

    3.1 Does the issue relate to judicial family life? If not, to what does it relate?

    3.2 Do I have enough information from the mentee to understand the issue or would additional facts be helpful?

    3.3 Have I detached myself emotionally while analyzing the issue?

    3.4 Have I provided appropriate resources?

  4. What is mentoring? Mentoring is not counseling, coaching or supervision.

    4.1 Mentoring is not counseling. A counselor is a person who has a set of objective listening skills and uses those skills to allow the person being counseled to come to her/his decision. In a mentoring relationship, the mentor shares experiences and personal opinions with the mentee who uses that information in the decision making process. The mentor might say, "This is what I wish I had done when I first experienced this."

    4.2 Mentoring is broader than coaching which is skill-based training without an emotional component. Mentoring may involve some coaching, but there is also a responsibility to engage in a caring relationship.

    4.3 Mentoring is not supervision. The mentor does not tell the mentee if she/he is doing well. There is not an evaluation component. The mentor offers advice and support and shares experiences.

    4.4 Two key categories of mentoring are role-related and psychosocial.

    4.4.1 Psychosocial functions offer caring support to someone new in the role.

  5. 4.4.2 Role-related activities are specifically related to situations that a person encounters in her/his role.

  6. Description of the OJFN Mentor Program.

    5.1 The mentees will be assigned to mentors based on gender, community size (urban or rural) and, if possible, court jurisdiction.

    5.2 The mentor period is two years.

    5.3 If, at any time, a mentee is not comfortable with her/his assigned mentor, the Supreme Court program staff member will reassign the mentee. Each mentor and mentee will have an evaluative discussion at six months.

    5.4 The OJFN Steering Committee chair, the mentor and the Supreme Court program staff member will each write a welcome letter to the spouse of every new judge upon her/his election or appointment to the bench.

    5.5 The mentor will contact the mentee no less than quarterly.

    5.6 The Supreme Court staff member will provide a quarterly informational piece (example: article, newsletter) to the mentors to be forwarded to the mentees.

    5.7 Annually, there will be at least two educational programs that focus on judicial family life for spouses of new judges

    5.8 A Mentor Program evaluation will be done, and the data will be used to revise the program for the following year.

For information about the Advisory Committee on the Judicial Family Network, please contact Judicial Services Program Coordinator Melissa Leonard, Supreme Court of Ohio, 614.387.9467.