Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 19, 2016

Members helping members

Raising the Bar

Lynda Minks Hood

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. – William Arthur Ward

In 1999, past president Lee Akers wanted to initiate the Mentor Program to pair a new attorney who might need help in a particular area of law with an established, experienced attorney. The purpose of the Mentor Program is to help newer lawyers gain insights about the more practical aspects of the practice of law, which they might not have learned in law school. Today, more than ever, we are seeing the need for our Mentor Program. More and more new lawyers have passed the bar and are practicing on their own. The need for mentors is critical because there is so much that is not taught in law school. We have a great group of Mentors ready to assist anyone in need – and most of them are our past presidents of the Association.

When should you contact a Mentor? The answer to that question is really when you begin practicing in Chattanooga. That Mentor can give you great insight on everything you need to know about practicing in Hamilton County. The best way to learn is to get involved and ask questions! If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you, but if you are determined to learn, no one can stop you!

If you would like to be paired with a Mentor, you can go to our website at www.chattanoogabar.org and download the Mentee Questionnaire. You will also find the list of our Mentors. You may choose to call someone on your own, or you can complete the questionnaire and send to me, and I will pair you with the Mentor who’s best suited for you.

If you have been practicing for more than 15 years and would like to be a Mentor, I hope you will consider volunteering to be a Mentor. The time commitment is minimal, and the rewards for both mentor and mentee are exceptional.

The following are some of the guidelines for the Program:

1. The Chattanooga Bar Association makes no representation as to the knowledge or experience of the Mentors.

2. Mentors serve on a voluntary basis, and members of the Mentor Committee are past presidents of the Association.

3. Mentees should not involve Mentors in prolonged discussions.

4. The Mentor Program does not contemplate Mentors rendering professional services to Mentee’s clients, and Mentees must ultimately exercise their own independent professional judgment on behalf of their clients.

5. When discussing a particular case, Mentees should pose their questions in the form of fact patterns to avoid disclosing their clients’ identities and to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. If a client’s identity must be disclosed, the Mentor shall ascertain that no conflict of interest exists before responding to the inquiring Mentee.

6. Mentees should not: (a) ask Mentors to perform any legal research as a result of inquiry; (b) ask Mentors to accept employment as co-counsel; or (c) refer clients to Mentors to handle their cases. Mentors are cautioned that they should take appropriate steps to avoid even the appearance of the existence of an attorney/client relationship between the Mentor’s and Mentee’s clients. Mentees might wish to modify their conflicts system to retrieve all matters on which their Mentors are adverse to the Mentees.

7. Mentees are reminded that any detailed conversation about the specifics of the problem and situation of a client might require prior consent from the client before making such disclosure. Failure to obtain this consent might violate rules of professional conduct. The Mentor Program is intended to provide general assistance, but it is not a means to provide Mentees with answers to case specific questions or to protect Mentees from their own professional responsibility.

8. Mentees are encouraged to ask questions regarding substantive, practical, or ethical issues they might encounter. Mentees should not be afraid to ask even the most basic questions. Remember that Mentors probably had similar experiences when they began the practice of law, and that Mentors will be more than happy to answer questions.

9. Mentees must be a member of the Chattanooga Bar Association.

The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, and the willingness to learn is a choice. – Brian Herbert