The Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers (HAWL) 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 and Thomas M. Cooley Law School (who are members of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers’ chapters at their respective schools) with members of HAWL. Mentors are encouraged to answer questions and give advice about aspects of practicing law. Mentors will be an invaluable resource of practical advice, professional contacts and support to aid and guide the mentees. 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 program year (i.e., September to May); although the mentor and mentee can communicate as often as they wish and they are encouraged to meet in person more often. The mentors and mentees can meet this requirement by attending two of the events the Mentoring Program hosts or by meeting outside of the scheduled group events. The Mentoring Program strongly encourages mentors and mentees to attend its group events (e.g., kick-off event in the fall, courthouse shadow day, holiday party, and spring mixer). The Mentoring Program also highly suggests attending HAWL’s Judicial Reception, the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s (HCBA) spring diversity event, and HAWL’s annual sports competition against local judges. The dates of these events will be provided to the mentors and mentees as they become available.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor or mentee or if you want to learn more about the program, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benefits of a Mentoring Relationship
For the Mentor:
- Shaping the future of the practice of law
- Gaining 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 questions about the practice of law
- Learning about the business of practicing law
- Receiving help assessing strengths and weaknesses
- Receiving objective feedback
- Developing skills for success
- Enhancing professionalism
- Obtaining assistance with long-range career planning
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 a mentee, 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 a hearing or trial
- Have lunch on a monthly basis
- Attend a continuing legal education program
- Attend Mentoring Program events, such as the kick-off event, courthouse shadow day, holiday party, and spring mixer
- Attend HAWL and HCBA functions, such as HAWL’s Judicial Reception, HCBA’s spring diversity event, and HAWL’s sports competition against local judges
- Tour the courthouse
- Invite another lawyer to join the mentor and mentee for breakfast, so that the mentee can meet another lawyer and expand his or her professional network
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.