Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers  
Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers

HAWL Mentoring Program

The HAWL Mentoring Program invites you to join its Mentoring Program. This program provides participants with an opportunity to form a mutually beneficial relationship that fosters professional growth, career development, and personal fulfillment. The Mentoring Program pairs law school students from the Stetson University College of Law who are members of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers at Stetson with members of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers (HAWL). Mentors are encouraged to answer questions and give advice about the practical and substantive aspects of practicing law. Mentors will be an invaluable resource of practical advice, professional contacts and support to aid and guide the mentee. This program is intended to help law school students transition from law school to practice; it is not an employment solicitation program or recruiting device.

The time commitment is a minimum of one face-to-face meeting between the mentor and mentee each semester during the school year, although the mentor and mentee can communicate as often as they wish. The mentors and mentees can meet this requirement by attending two of the events the Mentoring Program sponsors or promotes during the fall or spring or by meeting outside of the scheduled events. The Mentoring Program strongly encourages mentors and mentees to attend the Mentoring Program’s Kickoff Event in the fall, the Mentoring Program Shadow Day in the fall, the Mentoring Program Holiday Party in the fall, the Mentoring Program Mixer in the spring and the Mentoring Program Annual Dinner Banquet in the spring. The Mentoring Program also highly suggests attending the HAWL Judicial Reception, Central Florida Diversity Picnic and HAWL Softball Tournament in the spring. The dates of these events will be provided to the mentors and mentees in advance.

If interested in becoming a mentor or mentee or if you want to learn more about the program, please send an email to: Dara Cooley at cooleyda@fljud13.org, Christine Derr at cderr@derrlawfirm.com, or Sara Peacock-Bartos at peacock.bartos@gmail.com.

Benefits of a Mentoring Relationship

For the Mentor:

  • Shaping the future of the practice of law
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Giving back to the profession
  • Reviewing your own strengths and weaknesses
  • Learning from your mentee
For the Mentee:

  • Having a person to turn to with a substantive, procedural or ethics question
  • Learning about the business of practicing law
  • Helping assess strengths and weaknesses
  • Objective feedback on skills
  • Develop skills for success
  • Enhance professionalism
  • Assisting with long-range career plan

What to Look For in a Mentoring Relationship

Mentors and mentees should have a good feel after a few meetings as to whether the rapport is right for a mentoring relationship. Both mentors and mentees should hold respect for each other and bring trustworthiness and the ability to keep confidences to the mentoring relationship. Look for similar qualities in a mentor and mentee, as well as a sense of humor, good listening skills, a high comfort level in giving and receiving feedback, and the ability to discuss a wide range of issues. The mentorship is especially productive when the mentor believes he or she can learn from you, and the relationship is a two-way street.

Topics of Discussion

Discussions between mentors and mentees may focus on general issues related to the legal profession and the practice of law, such as:
  • Law school courses and Bar preparation courses
  • Law practice transitions and alternatives
  • Professionalism and legal ethics
  • Practice and career enhancement
  • Law office management
  • Effective attorney/client communications
  • Balancing careers with family and personal lives

Possible Activities to Build the Mentoring Relationship

  • Attend an oral argument or trial
  • Have lunch on a monthly basis
  • Attend a CLE program
  • Attend Mentoring Program events, such as the Kickoff Event, Shadow Day, Holiday Party, Spring Mixer and the Annual Dinner Banquet
  • Attend HAWL and HCBA functions, such as the Judicial Reception, Diversity Picnic and Softball Tournament
  • Tour the courthouse
  • Invite another lawyer to join you for breakfast to introduce to your mentee

What to Expect from the Mentoring Program

It takes time to build a mentoring relationship. Give the mentoring relationship a chance to form over the course of several meetings. Try to communicate early on to understand each other’s expectations. The HAWL Mentoring Program is not designed to provide employment opportunities or be a substitute for continuing legal education, but to foster the highest ideals of the legal profession. If the mentoring relationship is not of value to either the mentor or mentee, take the initiative to discuss it. It is better to resolve the matter and end the relationship on a positive basis. The mentee should not expect the mentor to have all the answers. Mentors should guide from experience, and share those experiences with the mentee. If the mentor or mentee desires to end the relationship and be paired with a new mentor or mentee, please contact the HAWL Mentoring Program.

Getting Started

Thirty-six mentors and 46 mentees signed up for the Mentoring Program as a result of HAWL’s Second A
2011 - Thirty-six mentors and 46 mentees signed up for the Mentoring Program as a result of HAWL’s Second Annual Speed Mentoring event.

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