Bar mentorship efforts go high tech with state of the art matching and communications technology
Florida Bar President Gary Lesser said when he was sworn in almost a year ago that he wanted The Florida Bar to have “the best mentorship program in the country,” and Bar leaders have been working toward making that a reality since.
Mentorship is integral to any field, but especially to the development of the law profession and newer lawyers. This is why The Florida Bar has created Counsel to Counsel, a unique mentorship program facilitated virtually through the MentorcliQ software. With the rise of virtual legal practice and the increased isolation of legal work, the legal profession has witnessed many newer lawyers enter the field without the benefit of the mentoring relationships found in more traditional court and legal settings.
“We researched state bar mentoring programs across the country and found that most use traditional matching techniques and analog materials,” said Zack Zuroweste, one of the co-chairs of the Bar’s Special Committee on Mentoring New Lawyers.
Instead, Counsel to Counsel uses an app to pair lawyers who share similar personalities, preferences, and practices.
“Our goal is to pair you with someone you can connect with and establish a mentor relationship; not just someone who does the same work as you,” Zuroweste said.
Counsel to Counsel will help connect seasoned attorneys to newer attorneys and assist them in developing a meaningful professional relationship through the MentorcliQ technology and personal, direct communication. The program curriculum consists of a nine-month program, using four milestones and practical experiences. MentorcliQ is a mentoring software and mobile app used by Fortune 500 companies featuring scientific matching technology and makes it easy for mentors and mentees to connect and develop their mentoring relationship. Using MentorcliQ helps make this process as simple as possible, so participating members can focus on what matters most in a mentoring relationship: communication.
“I’m very excited about the MentorCliq software,” Co-Chair Katherine Hurst Miller said. “The Special Committee on Mentoring came up with a wish list of ways we would like to integrate technology into mentoring, and MentorCliq does everything on that wish list.”
This program stands out in many ways. Counsel to Counsel’s program structure has been tailored to encourage a wide range of useful conversations and practical experiences to help newer lawyers grow their careers more effectively than without guidance.
The four milestones selected to guide the program include:
• Career Planning and Professional Development
• Lawyer-Client Relationship
• Lawyer-Bar relationship
• Client Development and Community Involvement.
To help those who may be interested in participating, the Bar created a landing page with information and resources on the Counsel to Counsel program. On this webpage, you’ll find instructions on how to access the app, frequently asked questions, and helpful videos explaining the uniqueness of the program and the benefits for both mentors and mentees.
Once lawyers sign up for Counsel to Counsel, they fill out a brief survey and the program then uses cutting-edge matching technology to determine compatibility between mentors and mentees. From there, the mentor or mentee may choose their top three options, and the technology establishes the final match based on those responses.
To qualify as a mentee in the Counsel to Counsel program, the lawyer must be in good standing, have less than three years of experience and be working at a firm with three or fewer lawyers (or be unemployed).To be a mentor for Counsel to Counsel, lawyers need to have more than five years of legal experience and be a member in good standing.
Research has shown that mentors can gain exposure to new ideas, educational methods, technologies, and perspectives through conversations with their mentees. At the same time, mentees benefit from networking and new experiences, and being part of a mentorship can result in increased pay, responsibility, and happiness.
“Counsel to Counsel is going to help newer lawyers be their best personal and professional selves,” President Lesser said. “This will be good for the newer lawyers, the mentors that work with them, and will overall elevate the legal profession going forward.”
For more information on Counsel to Counsel, visit floridabar.org/mentoring.