Required Mentoring for New Lawyers- What Do You Think?

According to this article, the Florida Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism recently adopted a recommendation that would require every lawyer admitted to the Florida Bar – 2000 of them annually – to obtain a mentor during the first year of practice.  The Commission has now asked a special blue-ribbon committee to study ways to implement a mentoring program.  Ultimately, any proposals would be subject to final  approval by the Bar’s Board of Governors.  In the meantime, however, the Dade County Bar Association has launched its own voluntary ”e-mentoring” program — the first by any local Bar in the state — which pairs veteran lawyers with newer lawyers through e-mail.

In theory, a mentoring program sounds like a terrific idea.  Imagine the value to a young lawyer of having access to a more experienced colleague to answer basic questions like what court rule governs the number of days to respond to a motion or how to effect service on an out of state corporation.   Further, because most mentors won’t work at the same firm as the new lawyer (at least, that’s how I’d recommend setting up the program), the lawyer can seek honest advice without facing adverse repercussions on the job.  Finally, presumably a mentoring program won’t cost money, which means that new solos who may lack financial resources can find some help without making a substantial investment.

On the other hand, mentoring relationships depend on the parties involved in the case.  Some lawyers give willingly of their time, while others may have no desire to assist a new lawyers.  Some lawyers also don’t know how to mentor – and may be more focused on talking about how they run their own firm, which might not necessarily be useful to a lawyer with a different vision.  And to be honest, some new lawyers have no interest in availing themselves of a mentor, either because of a stubborn “I must do this myself” mentality or a fear of appearing stupid.

Can mandatory mentoring work?  Or do mentoring relationships need to develop more naturally, when both sides are ready.  And finally – who’s the best mentor you’ve ever had?  Please share in the comment section below.