More and more regulatory agencies are recognizing the value in the mentoring relationship between experienced attorneys and those newly admitted to practice. With the success of mandatory programs such as those created in Georgia and Utah, several additional states have begun programs - some mandatory and others voluntary.
With the increase in mentorship programs, more states are also allowing both mentors and mentees to claim MCLE credit for some portion of the program. Below is an audit of the current state of these credit allowances.
Credit may be given for mentoring another attorneyin providing pro bono services. There is no indication of number of credits or limitations on credits which may be earned. (emphasis added)
Approval may be sought for other activities. Attorneys may petition the MCLE Committee for review of those activities and assignment of method of calculating credit hours. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, mentoring and consultation activities. (emphasis added)
Direct Representation and Mentoring in Pro Bono Civil Legal Matters
- A lawyer may be awarded a maximum of nine (9) units of general credit during each three-year compliance period for providing uncompensated pro bono legal representation to an indigent or near-indigent client or clients in a civil legal matter, or mentoring another lawyer or a law student providing such representation. (emphasis added)
- To be eligible for units of general credit, the civil pro bono legal matter in which a lawyer provides representation must have been assigned to the lawyer by: a court; a bar association or Access to Justice Committee-sponsored program; an organized non-profit entity, such as Colorado Legal Services, Metro Volunteer Lawyers, or Colorado Lawyers Committee whose purpose is or includes the provision of pro bono representation to indigent or near-indigent persons in civil legal matters; or a law school. Prior to assigning the matter, the assigning court, program, entity, or law school shall determine that the client is financially eligible for pro bono legal representation because (a) the client qualifies for participation in programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation, or (b) the client’s income and financial resources are slightly above the guidelines utilized by such programs, but the client nevertheless cannot afford counsel.
- Subject to the reporting and review requirements, (a) a lawyer providing uncompensated, pro bono legal representation shall receive one (1) unit of general credit for every five (5) billable-equivalent hours of representation provided to the indigent client; (b) a lawyer who acts as a mentor to another lawyer as specified in this Rule shall be awarded one (1) unit of general credit per completed matter; and (c) a lawyer who acts as a mentor to a law student shall be awarded two (2) units of general credit per completed matter. A lawyer will not be eligible to receive more than nine (9) units of general credit during any three-year compliance period via any combination of pro bono representation and mentoring.
- A lawyer who acts as a mentor to another lawyer providing representation shall be available to the lawyer providing representation for information and advice on all aspects of the legal matter, but will not be required to file or otherwise enter an appearance on behalf of the indigent client in any court. Mentors shall not be members of the same firm or in association with the lawyer providing representation to the indigent client.
Attorneys newly admitted after June 30, 2005 must complete in the year of their admission or in the next calendar year the State Bar of Georgia Transition into Law Practice Program, and such completion of the Transition into Law Practice Program shall satisfy the mandatory continuing legal education requirements for such newly admitted active member for both the year of admission and the next succeeding year.
- Attendance satisfies the mandatory continuing legal education requirements for both the year of admission and the succeeding year.
- The Transition Into Law Practice program is a two day program consisting of either Enhanced Bridge the Gap or Fundamentals of Law Practice on day one and Mentoring Plan of Activities and Experiences on day two (emphasis added)
- Enhanced Bridge-the-Gap is the continuing legal education program of the Transition Into Law Practice Program that is delivered by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in large group settings. Enhanced Bridge-the-Gap consists of two consecutive days of course work that inform and facilitate further discussion in the mentoring context.
- Fundamentals of Law Practice is the continuing legal education program of the Transition Into Law Practice Program that is delivered by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in small group settings to foster close interaction between newly admitted active lawyers and instructors. Fundamentals of Law Practice consists of two consecutive days of course work that inform and facilitate further discussion in the mentoring context.
- Mentoring Plan of Activities and Experiences is the plan that structures and guides the mentoring component of the Transition Into Law Practice Program. The Plan shall be submitted to the Program in the year of admission or early in the next calendar year by the newly admitted active member and his or her mentor. The Plan must be completed in the year of admission or the next calendar year.
- Activity of Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring. Lawyers completing a comprehensive year-long structured mentoring program, as either a mentor or mentee, may earn credit equal to the minimum professional responsibility credit during the two-year reporting period of completion, provided that the mentoring plan is preapproved by the Commission on Professionalism, the completion is attested to by both mentor and mentee, and completion occurs during the first three years of the mentee’s practice in Illinois. For reporting periods ending in 2011 or earlier, the maximum number of professional responsibility credit hours shall be four. Beginning with the reporting periods ending on June 30 of either 2012 or 2013, in which 30 hours of CLE are required, the maximum number of credit hours available shall be six.
Upon satisfactory completion of the Mentor Match program, including:
- The activities elected in the Mentoring Plan at the outset of the mentoring term were completed
- Participation in discussions about the following topics:
- Substance abuse and mental health issues
- Attorney Relationships with third parties
- Trust Accounts and IOLTA
- Attorney-Client Relationships, Professionalism/Civility
- Pro Bono Activities
- Completion of at least six in-person meetings over the course of the term for a minimum of nine mentoring hours;
Mentors may claim twelve hours (12) of CLE/Ethics and Mentees may claim 6 hours APC/CLE.
The Oregon State Bar has launched its New Lawyer Mentoring Program, beginning wiht incoming bar members sworn in May 2011. The mandatory program will formalize a process that for many decades took place organically, through connections forged at law firms and other close-knit bar communities. As the Oregon Bar has grown, the process of introducing new lawyers to the legal community, and guiding them through the transition to law practice, has grown more amorphous. The NLMP offers new bar members one-on-one guidance on elements of a highly competent practice, while promoting the professionalism, civility and collegiality that make Oregon among the best places in the country to practice law.
The program is loosely modeled on programs in Georgia and Utah, which have received accolades for giving all new bar members meaningful access to experienced lawyers and a well-developed mentoring program in their first year. The Oregon model emphasizes a flexible approach in which mentors and new lawyers take the core curriculum and shape it to best meet the needs of the new lawyer.
The curriculum includes six components, each designed with the flexibility to tailor it directly to the needs of the new lawyer. New lawyers will work with their mentors to develop an individualized Mentoring Plan covering:
- Introduce new lawyers to the legal community;
- Rules of Professional Conduct, Professionalism, and Cultural Competence;
- Introduction to Law Office Management;
- Successful Client Relationships;
- Career Development, Public Service, Bar Leadership, and Work/Life Balance;
- Practical Area Basic Skills.
The mentorship program will be 12 months long. It will not replace the CLE requirements for new admittees, but upon completion new admittees will get 6 general credits they can carry forward into their next compliance period. Mentors will get 8 general credits toward CLE requirements. If another lawyer assists with the mentoring, the credits must be apportioned between them.
- A Mentor Programis an Accredited CLE Activity that is either sponsored or cosponsored by the State Bar of Texas or otherwise approved by the MCLE Committee, is open to all members of the State Bar, and is completed in conjunction with MCLE approved training. The purpose of the approved training/mentoring relationship shall be the preparation of participants for providing pro-bono services or for managing professional responsibility challenges and shall consist of substantive legal training as opposed to coaching or personal encouragement. A maximum of five (5) hours, including one (1) ethics hour, per compliance year may be claimed for the actual amount of time spent in the mentoring relationship. Mentor programs shall be submitted to the MCLE department in accordance with Section 10.2 and 10.8. (emphasis added)
- Participating in a State Bar accredited Mentor Program is eligible for CLE credit up to a maximum of 5 credit hours, including 1 ethics hour, each year. Credit hours are calculated based on actual time spent in the mentor relationship.
- A new lawyer or mentor who successfully completes the requirements of the Model Mentoring Plan or an approved plan shall receive up to three hours of ethics or professional responsibility credit. (emphasis added)
Pro bono legal services: A member may earn up to six (6) hours of credit annually by certifying that the member has fulfilled the following requirements under the auspices of a qualified legal services provider:
- Each attorney seeking CLE credit will have received at least two (2) hours of education, under the auspices of a qualified legal services provider, which may consist of:
- not less than two (2) hours of training with live presentation(s); or
- not less than two (2) hours viewing or listening individually to video or audio tapes approved by the CLE Board; or
- any combination of the foregoing training; or
- serving as a mentor to a participating attorney who has completed the foregoing training; and (emphasis added)
- Each attorney seeking CLE credit also will have subsequently completed not less than four (4) hours of pro bono work in providing legal advice, representation, or other legal assistance to low-income client(s) through a qualified legal services provider or in serving as a mentor to other participating attorney(s) who are providing such advice, representation, or assistance. (emphasis added)
Each new admittee to the Wyoming State Bar shall complete, within the first year after admission, a four-hour continuing legal education course which covers the following criteria:
- One hour of general procedures, with focus on Professional Conduct Rules 1.1 (competence), 1.3 (diligence), and 1.4 (communication).
- One hour of fees and trust account management, with focus on Professional Conduct Rules 1.5 (fees), 1.15 (safeguarding property), and 1.16 (terminating relationships).
- One hour of conflicts, with a focus on Professional Conduct Rules 1.7, 1.8, and 1.9.
- One hour of the function of the Wyoming State Bar and Bar Committees including, but not limited to, the mentoring program and the Lawyers Assistance Committee. (emphasis added)
These credits will be counted toward the required 15 hours of continuing legal education.
- For Mentoring Another Attorney: A WYPBO attorney who acts as a mentor to another attorney for a pro bono case will be awarded one (1) CLE credit per case and shall not be eligible to receive more than three (3) CLE credits for pro bono work in any one calendar year. (emphasis added)
- For Mentoring a Law Student: A WYPBO attorney who acts as a mentor for a law student who has successfully completed at least four (4) semesters at an ABA accredited law school on a case will be awarded three (3) CLE credits and shall not be eligible to receive more than three (3) CLE credits for pro bono work in any one calender year. (emphasis added)