Katerina P. Lewinbuk (South Texas), Kindling the Fire: The Call for Incorporating Mandatory Mentoring Programs for Junior Lawyers and Law Students Nationwide, 63 St. Louis U. L.J. 211 (2019):
With mentoring, the legal community can guide, mold, and aid those entering the legal field. Mentoring should begin in law school, just as 110 schools are currently doing, so that students can begin building important professional relationships. Mentoring will help students and attorneys avoid making rookie mistakes, give them the confidence and skills they need to grow, and teach them how to "practice law in accordance with the highest ideals of the profession."
As cases dealing with attorney discipline demonstrate, attorneys that have mentors will likely be more successful than those that never sought guidance in their profession. For instance, the case of Christman v. People demonstrated the negative outcomes attorneys face when they never had a chance to obtain mentorships. As the court indicated in that case, it is critical for newly admitted attorneys to have guidance early on in their professional careers. As such, many law schools now strongly encourage mentorships for students.
Currently, the implementation of mentorship programs is being determined by each individual state. Six states currently require mentorship programs for newly admitted attorneys, others are joining the movement by implementing voluntary programs.' A number of law schools are also encouraging and creating programs for students entering law school by connecting them with alumni, student organizations, and practicing attorneys. Not only are mentorship programs beneficial for learning purposes, but they also serve as a means for rehabilitation when attorneys have gone astray.
Having a mentor is not only beneficial to State Bars and law firms, but to the public. This is especially true when attorneys, who have been previously disbarred, want to reenter the profession. Among other requirements, 9 the American Bar Association (the "ABA") often calls for an attorney to complete and comply with its mentorship program in order to be rehabilitated.' Mentorships have a beneficial outcome on practicing attorneys, which, in turn, benefits clients.
Accordingly, this Article suggests that the ABA consider encouraging the states to take voluntary mentorship programs to a new level, potentially making it a requirement. For example, Georgia has adopted an approach that crafted its own unique program. Some states have adopted Georgia's model. Every state should implement its own suitable version. Over time, this would lead to a change in the culture of the legal profession. Giving back to the community and the profession through mentorship should not be an incentive," but rather an investment attorneys want to make.