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Mentoring: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs for New Lawyers

To participate new lawyers must:

  • Be admitted to practice law in Ohio
  • Submit a New Lawyer Application within 60 days of their admission ceremony
  • Practice law in Ohio or intend to practice law in Ohio
  • Be subject to the new lawyer training requirement under Gov. Bar R. X

No. Participation is voluntary. Mentoring is one of two ways to fulfill your new lawyer training requirement.

Each active member of the Ohio bar is required to attend continuing legal education (CLE) courses to maintain and enhance professional competence. Active attorneys newly admitted to the practice of law in Ohio by examination are required to complete new lawyer training to fulfill their initial CLE requirement, unless otherwise exempted from this requirement under Gov. Bar R. X. Effective Nov. 1, 2008, new lawyers must complete the following by the end of the new lawyer’s first full CLE reporting period*:

  • Three hours of classroom instruction in professionalism, law office management, and client fund management AND
  • Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring OR
  • Nine hours of classroom instruction that has been approved as a New Lawyer Training activity

* Lawyers admitted to practice in the second year of their CLE reporting period have until the end of their subsequent CLE reporting period to complete new lawyer training. Determine your CLE reporting period.

Mentoring provides invaluable assistance in making the transition from law school to legal practice. As a new lawyer you will face many challenges in your first year of legal practice. Mentoring links you to an experienced attorney to help you sharpen your skills and provide guidance as you begin your legal career. New lawyers who have participated in Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring consistently report that their participation in the program gave them more practical knowledge about the practice of law. They find that the program meets their goals and they would recommend the program to other new lawyers.

Yes. New lawyers participating in mentoring are awarded nine hours of new lawyer training credit, depending on registration status, and must take three hours of classroom instruction in professionalism, law office management, and client fund management to fulfill their new lawyer training requirement. However, some new lawyers who participate in mentoring may want to take additional new lawyer training classroom or continuing legal education (CLE) courses in areas that pertain to their practice. If you complete and timely report more than the required twelve hours of new lawyer training, you may apply a maximum of twelve credit hours to your next CLE reporting period.

New lawyers admitted who meet the program requirements and wish to participate in Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring must complete the New Lawyer Application electronically online within 60 days of the admissions ceremony or registration as a corporate attorney.

The mentoring program has been designed to meet the needs of a new lawyer who has just begun the practice of law. Moreover, the limited administrative support for the program cannot facilitate mentor-new lawyer matching on a rolling admission basis.

The New Lawyer Application requests your employment information, your profile information, your mentor preferences, and your mentor nominations.

There are three ways new lawyers may be matched with mentors:

  1. At your admission ceremony, you will be given a password to view the Pre-Approved Mentor List, which contains individual mentor information, including areas of practice, size of firm or legal organization, geographical location, educational background, bar association membership, civic activities, hobbies and interests, and special skills. After searching the Pre-Approved Mentor List, you may submit your top three mentor nominations in your New Lawyer Application.
  2. You may approach any attorney or judge who is not on the Pre-Approved Mentor List who meets the program requirements and ask him/her to be your mentor. If the mentor agrees, ask the mentor to fill out a Mentor Application electronically online. You must also complete a New Lawyer Application.
    Note: Alternatively, a PDF of the Mentor Application is still available for download.
  3. Your law firm or legal organization may encourage your participation in Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring. In such cases, your employer may submit a list of proposed mentor-new lawyer matches to the Commission on Professionalism, which will generally be approved.

As a general rule, you will be notified of your approved mentor match about two weeks before your mentoring term begins.

Yes. You do not have to hold a legal position to participate. Keep in mind, however, that Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring is not intended to be used as a networking tool to secure a legal position and your mentor has no obligation to assist you in your job search.

FAQs for Mentors

To be an eligible mentor you must:

  • Be admitted to practice law for not less than five years;
  • Be registered active or corporate;
  • Have a reputation for competence and ethical and professional conduct;
  • Be in good standing;
  • Never have been suspended or disbarred from the practice of law in any jurisdiction, nor have voluntarily surrendered your license to dispose a pending disciplinary proceeding;
  • Not have been otherwise sanctioned in any jurisdiction during the ten years preceding your nomination as a mentor*;
  • Not have a formal disciplinary complaint pending before the Supreme Court of Ohio**;
  • Carry professional liability insurance with minimum limits of $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 in the aggregate, or its equivalent. Government attorneys, in-house counsel for a corporation, lawyers employed by a non-profit agency, or lawyers mentoring a new lawyer in-house are exempt from this requirement.
  • Submit a Mentor Application and be approved by the Commission on Professionalism

* For the purposes of the program, “sanctioned” means subjected to disciplinary action and includes public reprimands or private sanctions which occur in jurisdictions that impose them. Such sanctions also include administrative suspensions resulting from a deficiency in continuing legal education hours or a failure to renew attorney registration in a timely manner.

** If a formal disciplinary complaint is pending, a mentor nomination will be deferred until the final disposition of the formal complaint.

Yes. If you are matched to a new lawyer and successfully complete the mentoring term, you will receive 12 hours of CLE credit. This includes one hour of professionalism, one hour of ethics, and one-half hour of substance abuse credit.

Through mentoring, you give back to the legal community by assisting new lawyers entering the profession. Many mentors find the experience to be quite rewarding as they appreciate the opportunity to re-examine how they practice law and pass on their best advice to new lawyers. For many, mentoring also fosters a renewed sense of purpose in their work.

To volunteer to mentor, a Mentor Application must be completed and submitted to the Commission on Professionalism for approval.

A Pre-Approved Mentor is a lawyer whose application to serve as a mentor has been reviewed and approved by the Commission, regardless of whether the lawyer has been nominated to serve as a mentor to a specific new admittee. The pre-approved mentor's name is added to the Pre-Approved Mentor List, along with his or her profile, so that new lawyers may review the list when nominating a mentor.

All lawyers and judges participating as mentors in Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring must be approved by the Commission on Professionalism.  The Commission will review the Mentor Application to determine whether the applicant meets the mentor qualifications.

No. However, the success of Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring rests, in part, on having a large pool of pre-approved mentors available, so that new lawyers are free to nominate the mentors they believe would be best for them, taking into account geography, practice area, size and type of firm or legal organization, and other mentor characteristics. Even if you are not nominated as a mentor right away, your presence on the Pre-Approved Mentor List strengthens the program.

As a general rule, you will be notified of any approved match about two weeks before your mentoring term begins.

Yes. If you are a Pre-Approved Mentor, any new lawyer could nominate you as his or her mentor even if you are not in the same firm with the new lawyer.

Yes. You may volunteer to mentor more than one new lawyer during a mentoring term. However, a mentor may not serve as a mentor to more than two new lawyers at a time, because of the significant time commitment required to maintain a close mentoring relationship with each individual new lawyer. Moreover, if a lawyer mentors two new lawyers at the same time, he or she may only receive CLE credit for mentoring one lawyer.

Mentor applications will be accepted on an on-going basis.

Yes.  A judge who meets the minimum mentor qualifications, completes a Mentor Application, and is approved by the Commission on Professionalism, may serve as a mentor. An approved judge may mentor a new admittee who works for the judge (for example, as a staff attorney) or who works in the local community.

Participants of the mentoring program are expected to abide by any relevant rules of disclosure or recusal should the new lawyer appear in the judge's courtroom.

No. As a mentor, you must attend or view the mentor orientation only before the beginning of your first mentoring term. However, if you choose to participate in the program multiple times, you will need to review the orientation materials sent to you in the mail at the start of each mentoring term. It is important to be familiar with the most up-to-date mentoring materials and aware of any changes to the program.

FAQs for Law Firms and Legal Organizations

A successful mentoring program benefits a law firm or legal organization in several ways. A strong commitment to mentoring aids recruitment, increases retention, raises productivity, and builds and transmits an organization’s culture. Mentoring can build loyalty, help overcome workplace alienation, and allow an organization to more readily adapt to change. In addition to benefits intrinsic to mentoring, new lawyers who participate in Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring receive all of their new lawyer training credit (depending on registration status and provided they have also taken a three hour required course in professionalism, law office management, and client fund management) and mentors receive 12 hours of CLE credit, at no cost to your organization.

Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring is not intended to displace established in-house mentoring programs or to discourage future development of such programs. Rather, the Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring curriculum is intended to introduce core concepts that most employers will be able to incorporate with relative ease into their established in-house program, so that they may continue orienting new admittees in the way that is most appropriate for them provided that the Program’s curriculum is covered.

Your law firm or legal organization may submit mentor – new lawyer matches to the Commission on Professionalism. Please be mindful, however, that all new lawyers must complete a New Lawyer Application and all mentors must complete a Mentor Application. If the mentors meet the program’s requirements and are approved, the Commission on Professionalism will generally follow your organization’s suggested mentor-new lawyer pairings.

FAQs About the Mentoring Relationship

The purpose of Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring is to elevate the competence, professionalism and success of Ohio lawyers by creating positive mentoring relationships. Specifically, the mentoring relationship should foster the development of the new lawyer’s practical skills and increase his or her knowledge of legal customs; contribute to a sense of integrity in the legal profession; promote collegial relationships among legal professionals and involvement in the organized bar; improve legal ability and professional judgment; and encourage the use of best practices and highest ideals in the practice of law. Mentoring works on several different levels to foster the development of a new lawyer’s career while creating a sense of pride and purpose in the mentor.

No.  There is no cost for new lawyers or mentors to participate.

The mentoring term refers to the time during which the new lawyer and mentor participates in Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring. In general terms, the mentoring term for new lawyers admitted in November will be from the beginning of February of the following year through the end of December. The term for new lawyers admitted in May will be from the beginning of August through the end of June of the following year.

The aim of the Commission on Professionalism is to create meaningful relationships between new and experienced lawyers so that they each want to continue the relationship beyond the mentoring term. Therefore, if both participants wish to continue their mentoring relationship beyond the mentoring term, they are encouraged to do so. However, such a decision on the part of the participants is outside the scope of the program and wholly within their discretion.

The mentor and new lawyer are required to complete nine hours of mentoring over the course of six in-person meetings during the mentoring term. Mentors and new lawyer are free to meet more frequently or for more hours if they so choose.

The new lawyer and mentor will be required to complete the activities that they choose together on the Mentoring Plan during at their in-person meetings throughout the mentoring term. The activities and discussion topics in the Mentoring Plan cover lawyering skills and core concepts and values of the legal profession.

The Mentoring Plan is created at the first meeting between a new lawyer and mentor by choosing at least eight topics and activities from a list of 40. Examples of these subjects include:

  • Dealing with difficult clients
  • Working with support staff
  • Proper handling of client funds
  • Preparing for depositions
  • Balancing career and personal life
  • Strategies for client development
  • Common malpractice and grievance traps
  • Time management
  • Long-term career planning

The worksheets contain materials supplementing the topics outlined in the Mentoring Plan. This material includes discussion questions, cites to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, and background reading, designed to facilitate the mentoring meetings.

Each activity or topic listed in the Mentoring Plan has designated worksheets, which provide background information to both mentors and new lawyers. Additionally, the mentor can introduce the new lawyer to another experienced lawyer who would be willing to participate in the discussion about a topic in which the mentor is less experienced.

The Mentoring Agreement is an agreement that defines the parameters of the mentoring relationship and limits potential liability for participation in the mentoring program. The Mentoring Agreement must be signed by the mentor and new lawyer at their first meeting and submitted with their Mentoring Plan at the start of the mentoring term.

The In-house Mentoring Agreement should be signed if the mentor and new lawyer are employed by the same employer (which is referred to as an “in-house mentoring relationship” for purposes of the mentoring program). The Outside Mentoring Agreement should be signed if the mentor and new lawyer are not employed by the same employer (which is referred to as an “outside mentoring relationship” for purposes of the mentoring program).

In-house mentoring refers to mentoring that occurs between a mentor and new lawyer who are employed in the same office or firm. Outside mentoring refers to mentoring that occurs between a mentor and new lawyer who are not employed by the same office or firm. Participants in in-house mentoring relationships may discuss many different matters relating to clients because of the shared responsibility of liability and the confidentiality that extends to office employees. However, lawyers participating in the program in outside relationships must be especially cautious since no such safeguards exist. As a result, outside mentoring relationships require clear parameters, which essentially limit outside mentors and new lawyers to having non-confidential, hypothetical, and educational discussions regarding cases and matters. The Outside Mentoring Agreement which participants in outside mentoring relationships are required to sign makes clear those parameters.

Yes. The completed Mentoring Plan and Mentoring Agreement signed by both the new lawyer and mentor during their first meeting must be submitted to the Commission on Professionalism at the start of the mentoring term. The deadline for the Mentoring Plan and the Mentoring Agreement is generally 30 days from the start of the mentoring term. Additionally, at the end of the mentoring term, the participants must sign and submit a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion in order to receive new lawyer training or CLE credit. The deadline for the Certificate of Satisfactory Completion is the last day of the mentoring term.

Yes. Mentors are strongly encouraged to attend an orientation in-person and will receive additional CLE credit for their attendance.  Mentors unable to attend a scheduled orientation are asked to view the taped orientation on this website (and will not receive the additional CLE credit).  New lawyers are asked to read the orientation materials sent to them in the mail.

The first meeting should be initiated by the new lawyer, who will be responsible for contacting the mentor to schedule the meeting. Either party may initiate meetings thereafter, although it is ultimately the responsibility of the new lawyer to ensure that the mentor is contacted to schedule meetings. During their first meeting, participants are encouraged to discuss their preferences regarding how they would like to schedule future meetings.

If during the course of the mentoring term, a new lawyer or mentor moves away or quits the practice of law, the Commission on Professionalism should be notified immediately. The Commission should also be notified if there is a breakdown in communication between a new lawyer and mentor.

If the new lawyer and mentor experience a problem in their mentoring relationship for some other reason, they should attempt to discuss and resolve the issue together. If such attempt fails, they should contact the Commission on Professionalism to discuss the problem. In most situations, the Secretary of the Commission will mediate the dispute between the participants to attempt to revive and strengthen the mentoring relationship. Such resolution will normally be attempted because of the great value in learning to work with more senior or junior members of the profession despite imperfections in those business relationships. In some circumstances, however, the Secretary may determine that the breakdown in the mentoring relationship cannot be repaired, and the relationship should end.  In those instances, the Secretary will determine how the new lawyer should complete his or her mentoring term.

The Commission on Professionalism developed Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring with input from bar associations, law schools and lawyers in Ohio and with final review and approval from the Supreme Court of Ohio. The Commission on Professionalism will administer the program. Any questions about the program should be referred to the Commission.

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