Written by: Stephanie Hess, SCBA President
How did you learn to be an effective lawyer and counselor? Chances are that it was not in law school. More likely, you learned how to navigate the practice of law by observing one or more seasoned attorneys. If you were lucky, someone took the time to guide you. A mentor.
According to the National Legal Mentoring Consortium: “It is not by accident that the legal profession originally developed as an apprenticeship. A calling like ours demands that wisdom and experience that cannot be captured from case law or text books be passed along from seasoned lawyer to the less experienced, especially in the area of professionalism and ethics. Mentoring can help demystify and clarify what it means to be a lawyer, while emphasizing honesty, candor, service, and civility. Practicing law and being a lawyer is a way of life as much as it is a profession, and mentors can help ensure that lawyering retains its position as a calling, not simply a career.”
Mentoring has been a tremendous benefit to me over the years. Before entering law school, my exposure to the practice of law was limited to watching LA Law, Matlock, and Perry Mason reruns. I exited law school with a solid foundational understanding of law, but no clue of how to put that understanding into practice or how to navigate the business of law. I was lucky to have had a number of mentors throughout my legal career and I am a much better attorney, colleague, and partner with the benefit of their thoughtful guidance. Likewise, I have been honored to mentor several new attorneys myself and have always found the process incredibly rewarding.
This summer the Sonoma County Bar Association officially reintroduces its mentoring program, which was relaunched as a pilot program last winter. Whether you are a new attorney looking to learn from a seasoned attorney’s experience or a veteran attorney ready to pay it forward by guiding the next generation of lawyers, please consider joining the Sonoma County Bar Association’s mentoring program. Brand new or seasoned pro, you have a tremendous amount to learn and share.
For more information on SCBA's Mentorship Program, click here.