If your bar has struggled to come up with a successful mentoring program, you're not alone.
"I've seen it done [with] old school one-to-one matching; cohorts, with first-year lawyers mentoring law students, third-year lawyers mentoring the first-year lawyers; mentoring circles, where people are matched by areas of practice or geography," says Ellen Miller, director of strategic partnerships and initiatives at the California Lawyers Association and a long-time bar executive.
"All of them fail,” Miller says. “All of them fail, at least in my experience, for a few reasons." One reason, she believes, is that bars don't define clearly what they want from the mentor, which leaves the mentor feeling frustrated over time. The same is true when bars don't make it clear what they expect from mentees.
Many programs do not set clear goals for the programs, or even discuss whether a mentoring program is necessary, Miller notes. "What is the point of doing the mentoring program?" is a question that bars should be able to answer definitively before starting one, she says.