Mentor Match Program
The Roanoke Bar Association was established to provide a forum for the promotion of professional excellence among members of the Bar in the Roanoke area and to foster the development of community relationships between the citizens and the membership. Our ongoing mission is to provide innovative and educational opportunities for the members and to expand public awareness through the creation of long-term, professional relationships based upon integrity, fairness and respect.
Consistent with our mission, the Roanoke Bar Association will establish a Mentor Match Program to provide new lawyers with the tools to enable them to attain professional excellence. Recognizing that new lawyers often enter the legal profession without connections in the legal community, the Program has been designed to help new lawyers develop the knowledge, practice skills, client service standards, and professionalism necessary for the effective practice of law in southwest Virginia.
The Roanoke Bar Association will establish and maintain a list of attorneys who are willing to serve as mentors to new lawyers (Mentors). To qualify as a Mentor, the attorney must be a member in good standing with the Association and have at least 7 years experience practicing law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and at least 5 years experience practicing law in the Roanoke area. The Roanoke Bar Association will establish a Mentor Volunteer Form that will be used to gather relevant information to assist in matching new lawyers with Mentors.
The Roanoke Bar Association will establish an application form by which lawyers who are members in good standing with the Association and have 3 or fewer years of experience may request to have a Mentor assigned to them by the Association (Mentees).
Matching of Mentors and Mentees
The Roanoke Bar Association’s Mentor Match Program Coordinator will use best efforts to match each Mentee to a Mentor who is engaged in a legal practice that is similar to the Mentee in terms of subject matter and size and type of practice.
Mentor Match Program
Once assigned, each Mentor and Mentee should meet in person as soon as possible to establish a clear understanding as to the expectations of both the Mentor and the Mentee. To ensure that the Mentor Match Program achieves the objectives established for its creation, the Roanoke Bar Association recommends and encourages each Mentor and Mentee to develop a plan that would govern their mentor relationship. The elements of the plan may include but not be limited to the following:
- Establish frequency and method of communicating, such as monthly or bi-monthly in person meetings, email or telephone conversations.
- Discuss the primary objectives of the Mentee and Mentor in participating in the Mentor Program.
- Decide whether communications will be kept confidential, keeping in mind that the ethical and legal obligations owed to clients may require that the client consent to the disclosure of information or that discussions be framed in terms of hypotheticals that do not disclose identifying information.
- Introduce Mentee to members of the legal community. Assist in identifying ways for the new lawyer to become involved with the local and statewide bar associations, and take him or her to local courts to introduce the Mentee to judges, law clerks, clerks of court, legal aid staff, other attorneys and key staff members of these individuals.
- Review local expectations of civility and professionalism and any unwritten rules of practice in the local legal community.
- Discuss the importance of the Principles of Professionalism and the Rules of Professional Conduct, and review how the Mentee can obtain guidance on ethical issues through the Virginia State Bar Ethics Counsel.
- Discuss the Mentee’s career goals and establish specific areas for discussion that would advance the Mentee’s development of a productive and effective law practice, such as management of staff, use of technology, use of engagement agreements, file maintenance, and billing and collection.
- Discuss the Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which sets the aspirational goal for every attorney to dedicate two percent per year of his or her professional time to rendering pro bono publico service, and the opportunities in the area to participate in pro bono projects.
- Share insights and experiences relating to delivery of professional services, such as negotiation techniques, contract drafting, conducting depositions and written discovery, interviewing clients and witnesses, addressing the court, and oral advocacy, where appropriate.
- Discuss methods of ethically generating business, such as through networking, advertising, and referrals , and how to determine whether to accept or decline representation or associate more experienced counsel.
- Share tips for handling difficult situations that may arise with clients, opposing counsel or others in the workplace, including how to maintain high levels of professionalism and civility without prejudicing your client’s rights.
Limitations on the Mentor Match Program
- The Roanoke Bar Association makes no guaranty that a Mentor will be available for each Mentee making application, nor as to the competency or level of expertise of attorneys volunteering to serve as Mentors in the Mentor Match Program. The Association does not conduct an independent investigation as to the veracity of the information provided by either the Mentors or Mentees as to their qualifications to participate in the Mentor Match Program, but instead relies upon information that they provide in the Applications.
- The parties participating in the Mentor Match Program are advised that there are no exceptions to the legal and ethical obligations governing communications of clients’ confidential information for mentoring relationships. They are obligated to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 1.6, which governs safeguarding information relating to representation of a client without the client’s informed consent. The parties should consider using hypotheticals that do not contain client identifiers in lieu of disclosing client confidences.
- Participation in the Mentor Match Program is voluntary, and either party to the mentoring relationship may withdraw from the Program at any time by contacting the Mentor Match Program Coordinator. Unless a party withdraws, it is presumed that the mentoring relationship will be for a term of one year unless the parties agree to extend the relationship. If a mentor relationship is terminated before the end of the term because a party withdraws from the Program, the non-withdrawing party may request to have another Mentor or Mentee assigned.
Recognition of Mentors
At the Annual Membership Meeting held in June of each calendar year, the Roanoke Bar Association will recognize members of the Association who served as a Mentor and contributed at least ten hours to mentoring during the prior calendar year by presenting him or her with a Certification of Recognition.