Handbook for the National Mentor Program Law Students with Disabilities

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1 Handbook for the National Mentor Program Law Students with Disabilities Last updated January 2015

2 I. What Is Mentoring? Mentoring is a collaborative relationship in which a more experienced person shares knowledge, perspectives, skills, and wisdom acquired through the years in order to foster the professional growth and advancement of another person. Learning is at the core of this relationship. To be successful, mentoring requires active participation, cooperation, and commitment by both the mentor and mentee. II. Who Is a Mentor? Advisor/Counselor: acts as a sounding board Advocate: offers support, validation, and encouragement Coach: helps develop specific skills and competencies, achieve goals, and enhance performance and provides constructive feedback Facilitator: helps mentees discover and achieve their full potential Motivator: challenges mentees to set and achieve goals Networker: connects mentees to experts, mentors, and professionals who can assist in developing and advancing their careers Role Model: serves as someone who has qualities and skills that mentees can aspire to have Teacher: shares knowledge and skills based on experience 2

3 III. What Are the Benefits of Mentoring? For Mentors Enhances your coaching, communication, leadership, management, and interpersonal skills Introduces you to new and different ideas and perspectives Keeps you current on emerging issues Challenges you to grow and improve Renews pride in and purpose of your work Induces you to reflect on your professional life Expands your professional development network Supports and fosters your profession Promotes diverse individuals in your profession For Mentees Develops and enhances professional skills and competencies Provides career guidance Develops professional contacts Promotes career satisfaction and success Offers a sounding board for ideas and perspectives Builds initiative Motivates you to take responsibility for your professional growth Builds self-confidence and self-esteem Allows you to apply knowledge in a practical, real-world setting 3

4 Provides constructive feedback Creates a sense of pride and integrity in your chosen profession IV. Tips for Building an Effective Relationship Mentors Clarify your expectations and boundaries Listen to mentee s needs and expectations Ask questions Share interests Provide constructive feedback Avoid being judgmental Build trust Communicate regularly (at least monthly) Maintain confidentiality Provide support, validation, and encouragement Assign tasks to develop particular skill sets Measure mentee s progress Celebrate mentee s accomplishments Plan learning and networking activities Connect mentee to other experts, mentors, and professionals Discuss different perspectives 4

5 Avoid being the decision-maker Mentees Learn about mentor s career path and areas of expertise Share expectations for relationship and interests Identify potential barriers to mentoring relationship Set realistic, specific, time-measured goals Create action steps for each goal List any obstacles to achieving goals Identify a support team for goals Assess your strengths and weaknesses Identify skill sets you want to develop Identify key challenges Establish a schedule with mentor for communicating regularly Respect mentor s boundaries and time constraints Take initiative and set agenda for meetings Be prepared Be honest Build Trust Invite feedback Provide regular feedback on mentoring relationship Remain open to different perspectives 5

6 Ask questions Follow through on tasks assigned by mentor Explore opportunities and activities presented by mentor Show appreciation V. Suggested Questions to Ask Mentees to Mentors What law school did you attend? Who or what influences led you to choose a legal career? When you graduated, what were your career goals? What was your first job after graduation? How well did law school prepare you for practicing law? What is your area(s) of expertise? How did you choose it? How do you stay current on your area of the law? What do you like most about your job? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you manage time effectively? What obstacles do you encounter in time management? How do you balance your work and personal life? What challenges do you face? 6

7 What strategies do you employ to overcome them? What, if anything, would you have done differently? What skill sets are essential to success in the legal profession? How did you build your professional network and in what types of networking do you engage? Are you a member of your state bar? What activities did you engage in to advance your career? What are your expectations for our mentoring relationship? Do you foresee any obstacles to meeting these expectations? What are your time constraints? How often can you communicate? Does your workplace have a diversity plan? Is disability covered in the plan? How many diverse lawyers does your workplace employ? Are there any lawyers who have disabilities? Additional Questions for Mentors Who Have Disabilities Did you disclose your disability to your employer? Do you disclose your disability to your clients? How do you approach the topic and what do you say? Do you have accommodations at work? What are those accommodations? 7

8 Did you request accommodations before or after you were hired? How did you start the dialogue with your employer? How has your disability shaped your career choices and successes? What obstacles and challenges have you encountered in your career because of your disability? What strategies have you employed to overcome these? Are/were you mentored by a person(s) with a disability? Mentors to Mentees Who or what influenced you to go to law school? What areas of the law interest you? What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at school? What do you do in your free time? How are you building your professional network? Are you a member of your state bar (for law graduates)? Have you had or do you currently have any mentors? What are your expectations for our mentoring relationship? How can I best serve you as your mentor? How can I measure your progress? What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years? 8

9 How can I help you reach these goals? What do you consider your biggest challenges? What obstacles might keep you from reaching these goals? Do you want to work in the private or government sector? Do you want to practice law? What skill sets would you like to develop and how are they prioritized? Does your disability create any challenges or obstacles for you at school or work (for graduates)? Do you receive any accommodations at school or work (for graduates) for your disability? Do you disclose your disability? How has your disability shaped your life? VI. Suggested Activities Mentees and Mentors in Same State Attend state/local bar meetings and/or functions Visit the mentor s workplace and meet his or her colleagues Job-shadow the mentor for part of a day Attend trainings, seminars, and CLEs Attend networking events Attend diversity events 9

10 Attend an alternative dispute resolution Attend a non-law-related social event Observe a deposition Observe a trial and/or administrative hearing Observe oral arguments Conduct a mock job interview Mentees and Mentors in Different States Plan a project or presentation Draft a legal pleading Write an article on a legal topic of interest Practice a mock job interview Draft and present an opening and closing argument Interview the mentor s colleagues or other professional contacts Participate in online trainings, seminars, CLEs VII. Suggested Topics of Discussion Rules of civility and etiquette among lawyers and judges Rules of Professional Conduct Admission to the Bar Pro bono opportunities 10

11 Common grievances and malpractice pitfalls Time management skills and techniques Work-life balance Roles and responsibilities of support staff Choosing a client Client development, decision-making, communication, and confidentiality Difficult clients Conflicts of interest Case evaluation Billing and fees Negotiation/Arbitration Alternative dispute resolution Attorney discipline investigations Substance abuse and mental health conditions Diversity 11

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