E-mentoring is a way to connect with the future E-mentoring is a way to connect with the future Mark D. Killian Managing Editor participating in the new e-mentoring program, lawyers can be “the spark of change you want to see in the Bar” by assisting future lawyers while they are still in school, according to Katherine Silverglate of the Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism.“This is the one grassroots movement that can change the face of the Bar forever — one lawyer at a time,” Silverglate said.More than 1,000 law students and 700 lawyers are already involved in the e-mentoring project, which pairs students with experienced lawyers willing to share stories and give advice via e-mail, and the committee is encouraging more lawyers to get involved.The goal, Silverglate said, is to provide a safety net for young lawyers before they leave law school, before they pass the bar, and before they take on the responsibility of representing the interests of clients in Florida.Silverglate said today’s students need the advice of working lawyers who have on the job experience. While Florida law students get top-notch legal training from their academic programs, they need the benefit of experience to find out what else they need once they become lawyers, she said.Because it is often difficult to find the time to meet face-to-face, given the busy schedules of lawyers and students, Silverglate said e-mentoring has the advantage of transcending geographic boundaries and time constraints. Online you can meet anytime. “The easy thing is in an e-relationship you never have to do anything other than answer e-mails,” Silverglate said.Silverglate said the Center for Professionalism is also now designing an online CLE mentor training program so that all those involved in the program “are of like mind” and have the benefit of training on how to mentor someone through an e-mentor program.“Our goal is to have it be online so that anyone can go online and do the entire training session right there on their computer,” Silverglate said. “We believe that is what is going to take it to the next level because it gives mentors an additional reason to get involved. It is very hard to get professionalism and ethics credits, and not only would lawyers be getting professionalism and ethics credits, they would be furthering their relationships with the protegees.”The Center for Professionalism also has begun a mentoring outreach program to attract new mentors. The center will soon send postcards touting the program to the leaders of all the voluntary bars for distribution to their members in hopes it will increase the amount of mentors available.“We need the voluntary bar organizations to make it part of their process,” she said.Marion County Judge R. James McCune, Jr., said he became an e-mentor because each lawyer has a responsibility to the profession “to do what we can to strengthen and promote the values of the profession and share what distinguishes us as a profession.”Judge McCune said most lawyers are fully disconnected from law schools once they start practicing, and participating in this program draws you back.“It is fun to have that tie to people who are just coming in, who are so full of excitement and enthusiasm and hopes,” he said.“What I learned in the program is that while it’s important to focus on my studies, it is even more important to maintain family relationships and a good balance,” said Eilene O’Malley, one of Judge McCune’s protegees and a student at the University of Florida. “My mentor writes me by e-mail every other month, and I have met him once. He is very nice and quite realistic. He knows that being a lawyer can be draining, but he advises that I should have a private life that is separate from my professional one.”O’Malley said she signed up for the program not knowing how it might help, and she immediately received helpful advice. O’Malley also said it was not difficult to establish an on-line relationship.“It’s really whatever you want to make of it,” O’Malley said. “I just got really lucky to have someone who wants to help me.”“A lot of their questions, not all, but a lot of their questions are very practically oriented, such as how to get ready for the bar exam, what would be a good internship for me to have,” McCune said. “I respond directly, but also share my sense of the big picture.”McCune said the relationship he has with his protegees has grown over time and was not difficult to get going.“In some ways it is probably less intimidating and threatening for the mentee to kind of ease into it,” he said, adding the back and forth has become more casual as it progressed.Judge McCune said the program also makes him look at himself and reevaluate his own attitudes and how he treats others.“To some extent, it is kind of like looking in a mirror,” he said. “For someone who takes seriously their oath of attorney, that is something that we need to be doing regularly, doing a reality check on ourselves. It calls for some introspection, it calls for some reaching inside, and I think that is very helpful and something each of us should be doing.”To get word of the program out to students and possible mentors, Silverglate has traveled to most of the state’s law schools and a number of voluntary bar associations to present a one-hour dramatic monologue titled the “Many Fabulous Hats a Lawyer Wears.” Silverglate dons 36 hats and goes into different characters. Each hat represents roles lawyers play, such as counselor, firefighter, police officer, teacher, and magician to name a few — “All the things you have to balance as a lawyer.”Silverglate said as soon as a student’s name goes into the system, it goes into a waiting bay; and as soon as a mentor goes into a system, he or she is instantly matched and an e-mail goes to each saying, “Congratulations, a mentor has been chosen for you,” and the e-mail addresses are exchanged.The Center for Professionalism helps to facilitate the relationship by sending monthly discussion prompts to the mentors and protegees, such as articles that discuss something that happened in a case or something that is happening in the legislature that will affect the profession. The e-mentoring program is entirely voluntary, and mentors and protegees are under no obligation to continue the relationship. Mentors and protegees may request reassignments at any time.To become an e-mentor you must have been a Bar member for seven years or longer (although the committee will consider those with five to seven years experience), be in good standing with the Bar, and “really want to do it,” Silverglate said.To become an e-mentor, log on to www.flabar.org. Once there, click on “Professionalism,” which appears in the left-hand blue filed. Then click on the “I want to be a mentor” link. Once you have signed the requirements, you will then receive a confirmation e-mail and the name and e-mail address of your protegee. January 1, 2005 Managing Editor Regular News
Another young, rich athlete seems to be on the path of total destruction. For whatever reason, Johnny Manziel has not been able to handle the spotlight that his college career thrust upon him. If you believe some of the stories that have been written about Manziel, his troubles began even before he signed the big contract with Cleveland.It has been a downhill spiral ever since he left college. Manziel should have been able to handle the spotlight better than others because he already was the darling of the national press when they dubbed him Johnny Football.On the other hand, maybe this is what caused the problem in the first place. Not many 20-year olds have the experience it takes to handle stardom and money at an early age. You only hope that he gets the help he needs before the hole he is digging gets so deep that he cannot climb out of it.