And They’re Off!
New attorneys to enter pilot mentorship program
On November 16, 2011, Bridge the Gap – a longstanding institution – suspended operations and switched gears. In its place is Transitioning into Practice (TIP), a mentorship program for all new attorneys. Designed to create a one-on-one relationship with experienced and well respected members of the legal community, the TIP pilot program is now enrolling new lawyers in the program schedule to begin in spring of 2012.
Transitioning into Practice is the result of a year-long brainstorm involving Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy M. Saitta, State Bar President Constance A. Akridge, and a team of big-thinking attorneys and State Bar of Nevada staff who saw a need for a comprehensive introduction to legal practice in Nevada using a personalized and tailored approach.
The TIP program is a six-month personalized mentorship experience designed to provide transitional support to newly admitted attorneys. It consists of mandatory and elective elements geared toward assisting new lawyers in acquiring the practical skills and judgment necessary to practice in Nevada. Program elements can be tailored to meet the needs of public and private attorneys practicing in various specialties. Core curriculum modules include elements covering:
- The Nevada legal community;
- Personal and professional development and ethics;
- Law office management and the practice of law; and
- Client communications, advocacy and negotiation.
“I think the mentoring program, now known as TIP, will be a tremendous opportunity for our new and seasoned attorneys,” said Saitta. “While the former Bridge the Gap program served our legal community well, the time had come for a more closely monitored, ongoing program to assist new lawyers as they assimilate into the bar. With the program goal being an enhanced model of professionalism, everyone – lawyers, clients and judges – will benefit.”
Whether in public or private practice, in a small or large setting, TIP has something to offer every new attorney. “The great feature of the mentoring program is that the curriculum may be customized based upon the practice setting and the practice area of the new lawyer. Additionally, the program is designed to dovetail with any mentoring programs in place in public law or private law settings,” said Akridge.
Transitioning into Practice covers the basics – from reviewing the Rules of Professional Conduct to drafting retainer agreements – and then takes it up a notch. Mentors are paired with new attorneys practicing in the same area of law and/or in the same office location. This allows for customized training based on areas of specialty and interest. The program also emphasizes the importance of pro bono service to the community.
“I am excited that new lawyers will learn the importance of our obligation under SCR 6.1 to provide pro bono services and the benefit of pro bono service in developing practice skills,” said Akridge. Another fantastic part of the program is that new admittees will learn about the opportunities available for them to become involved in the legal community including the many opportunities to perform bar service.”
Chief Justice Saitta sums it up best: “The practice of law is complex, trying and ever-evolving. By partnering our young attorneys with more experienced lawyers, we can guide the practice of law in such a way that we meet the needs of those we serve while teaching young professionals the subtleties of our system. I have no doubt that our new lawyers will also teach our 'senior' lawyers a lot, too.”
“I firmly believe that our legal community will be better for this program.”
The State Bar of Nevada is in the process of recruiting volunteers across the state to serve as mentors. Applications may be submitted and additional information can be found online at www.nvbar.org/tip.