Experienced practitioners sharing knowledge; young lawyers receiving a guiding hand as they traverse the reality of practicing law.

The Buncombe County Bar mentoring program was designed with three goals in mind. First, the program gives experienced practitioners an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with their mentees. Secondly, mentees will receive the benefits of a guiding hand as they traverse the reality of practicing law. Finally, the mentees will learn the importance of becoming a citizen lawyer. The end result is to help the entire legal profession by assisting young lawyers to develop good character, competence, and a deeper appreciation for the responsibilities of the profession.

The program offers new lawyers an opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with a more experienced lawyer, wherein the mentor guides the mentee through the many pitfalls associated with early practice. Through this program, the legal profession is strengthened by the support given to young lawyers, who may not otherwise have an advisor.

When a pairing is made for a one-on-one mentoring relationship, the mentee is expected to initiate contact with the mentor within 14 days of the date the mentee was informed of the match. Matches of mentors and mentees are made on the basis of common interests, location, and other factors indicated on the application form. While mentors may be asked for guidance as to locations and types of practice, the mentoring program is not meant to serve recruitment or placement needs.

Mentees and mentors who desire a more comprehensive and traditional mentoring relationship are encouraged to meet informally for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the mentor’s office or anywhere else that is mutually convenient. Mentors and mentees are free to structure the relationship to meet the needs of both party’s availability. Mentors are encouraged to invite mentees to attend meetings, hearings, lectures, or any special law related event when appropriate. They are encouraged to communicate by telephone rather than email in order to establish a more personal relationship. Both mentors and mentees in the traditional relationships often have busy and unpredictable schedules, so mentees are encouraged to recognize that mentors are taking time away from work and other personal responsibilities in order to share time, wisdom, and experience. Please remember that it is the quality of the relationship and the information shared, not the quantity of the time spent, that determines the success of the mentoring relationship.

What Makes a Good Mentor?

A mentor is an advisor, trainer, and teacher. A good mentor is both a good person and a good lawyer. In the legal arena, a mentor is someone who is able to guide a new attorney in the practice of law, give him or her instructional advice about local laws and customs, and help the mentee to grow personally, as well as professionally.

Experienced lawyers who would like to ensure the next generation of lawyers is competent and professional may enroll in the traditional mentor program. The mentor will identify particular areas in which he or she has expertise in order to match the mentor with a mentee who has goals which are reflective of the mentor's experience. Mentors will help the mentees through current issues of concern in the profession, approaches to ethical dilemmas, career goals, types of legal practice, law practice management issues, and how to achieve a work-life balance.

Criteria for Mentors

  • Minimum of five consecutive years of active practice as a lawyer, or alternatively, a total of ten years of experience in the practice of law
  • No record of disciplinary action on file with the NC State Bar
  • A willingness to devote at least one hour a month to the relationship

Serve As A Mentor

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Receive Mentoring

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Limitations

It is not necessary that a mentor practice law in the same area(s) of law as his or her mentee. A mentor is not a tutor. A mentor's focus with his or her mentee should be imparting his or her knowledge and experience about such matters as professionalism, civility, dealings with opposing counsel and judges, dealings with clients and office staff, and balancing professional demands with personal, family, and civic obligations. In responding to a specific legal question from a mentee, a mentor should not be concerned about saying, "I don't know." However, the mentor should discuss how the mentee might find the answer to the question. The mentor should avoid discussions of actual cases or clients and should avoid providing specific substantive legal advice. The mentee agrees and understands that any advice given by a mentor is not intended to be substantive legal advice, and may not construe any such advice as being substantive legal advice. The mentor may be asked questions relating to general substantive legal issues, and in such instances, should attempt to provide the mentee with appropriate resources and should use reasonable judgment in the information provided. Mentors should direct the new lawyer to the North Carolina State Bar for resolution of difficult ethical issues. This program is designed to supplement, not replace, similar programs which may be in place at law firms or sponsored by local or other bar associations. Once the mentor/mentee is established, either party can confidentially opt out of the relationship by contacting the Chair of the Mentor Committee. If desired, every effort will be made to pair the mentor and mentee with a new mentee or mentor. Each mentor and mentee, by applying for this program, acknowledges that they have notified their law office about this relationship. Further, each mentee acknowledges that if employed by a firm that the firm is aware that the mentee will have a mentor who is not in the firm. The mentor/ mentee relationship is by its nature a confidential relationship and shall be treated as such by both mentor and mentee. Both mentor and mentee should be alert for any potential conflict of interest issues relating to any situation or discussion, and should address such issues immediately.