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XIII. Mentoring

A.  Lawyer - Law Student
The Commission developed a Mentoring Program piloted by Georgia members of the American Law Institute in which seasoned lawyers volunteer to serve as mentors for students at Georgia's five law schools:  Emory, Georgia State, John Marshall, Mercer, and the University of Georgia.  Introduced in the spring of 1991 with the linking of mentors and students completing their first year in law school, the program has expanded to include members of the general bench and bar in addition to ALI members.  The program provides students contact throughout their law school careers with practicing lawyers and the opportunity to address issues of current concern to the profession and to learn the things they need to know to practice law which they may not learn in the academic setting.  The goal is to provide experienced practitioners as mentors for law students to better assure that, as graduates, they will be equipped to deal with the realities of the practice of law, and to understand ethics and professionalism more fully.  The program includes an Orientation Session for the mentors, including guidelines and materials pertinent to the mentoring relationship.

B.  Lawyer - Lawyer
The Commission assists the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar, the Atlanta Bar Association, the Atlanta Jewish Federation, the Cobb County Bar Association, the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, the Georgia Indigent Defense Council, and other local and special constituency bar associations in the implementation of mentoring programs in which veteran lawyers make themselves available to newer lawyers for advice and counsel.

C. Transition into Law Practice
Pursuant to the 1997 Report of the Committee on the Standards of the Profession of the State Bar, the Commission and the Standards Committee conducted a Transition into Practice Pilot Project from 1999-2001.  The purpose of the project was to test the feasibility of a program of professional guidance for newly admitted lawyers through a skills and values curriculum linked with mentoring by experienced lawyers.  Based on the evaluations of the Pilot Project, the Standards Committee  issued a Report and Recommendations for a statewide Mandatory Transition Into Law Practice Program and an Implementation Plan.  Both the Board of Governors of the State Bar and the Supreme Court of Georgia approved the Mandatory Transition Into Law Practice Program.  Also known as the Mentoring Program, the program is designed to teach the skills, professional values and judgment necessary to practice law in accordance with the highest ideals of the profession.

        The four central features of the program are:

  1. Every beginning lawyer will be assigned a mentor for the first year of law practice.
  2. A new CLE program called Enhanced Bridge-the-Gap will emphasize lawyering skills as well as the lawyer's relationships with clients, other lawyers, the courts, and the public.
  3. The CLE curriculum will lay the groundwork for the activities and discussions between the mentor and beginning lawyer about the basic precepts of law practice, practical skills, and ethical and professionalism norms.
  4. Each mentor and beginning lawyer will develop a Mentoring Plan tailored to their circumstances.  It can be integrated into a training program that a law firm or organization may already have in place.  The Mentoring Plan is to be completed in the first year after admission to the Bar.

Launched in early 2006, the Transition Into Law Practice Program is now a permanent program of the State Bar of Georgia.