Affiliates Provide Valuable Mentorships
By Lindsey R. Buchheit
Lindsey R. Buchheit is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an associate with the Sioux City, Iowa, firm of Corbett, Anderson, Corbett & Vellinga, L.L.P.
Angelina Tsu, corporate legal counsel for Zions Management Services Corp. in Salt Lake City, Utah, plays an active role in the Utah Bar Association’s mentoring programs. When asked why, Tsu had this to say:
I grew up in one of those towns that you read about in a Faulkner novel. Just over half of my high school class graduated. Fewer than half ever left our small town. My friends married their high school sweethearts and had kids before their twentieth birthdays. I am a female, minority from rural Nevada. English is not my first language. If I was going to be a statistic, even I would agree that I was more likely to be a teen mother than a lawyer. So how does it happen? How do people go from the official armpit of America to law school? If you ask me, the answer is: a good mentor. Or in my case, several.
Mentoring Marathon
This year’s recipient of the Young Lawyer of the Year Award of the Utah State Bar Young Lawyers Division, Tsu is the epitome of the good things that come from mentorship. Grateful to her own mentors, Tsu is proud to be a member of a bar association that offers several mentorship programs.
For example, in 2007, with Tsu’s assistance, the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA) initiated “Mentoring Marathon,” a program designed to help minority law students prepare for spring recruiting. Two years later, UMBA partnered with the Utah Young Lawyer’s Division to make “Mentoring Marathon” available to all law students at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.
As part of a “Mentoring Marathon,” law students are able to meet with employers who are looking to hire, receive guidance from various speakers such as judges, law clerks, and attorneys, and participate in a one-on-one resume review session. Aside from preparing law students for spring recruiting, this all-day event provides aspiring lawyers the opportunity to establish contacts that may lead to a lasting mentoring relationship.
CLE Mentoring Requirement, LEAP, and Choose Law
In addition to “Mentoring Marathon,” the Utah State Bar Association (USBA) has established a new CLE requirement that pairs licensed attorneys of at least seven years with lawyers in their first two years of practice. During their mentorship, mentees learn basic skills such as how to draft motions, take depositions, and interview clients.
Among other mentoring programs sponsored by USBA is the “Learning Engagement Achievement Progress” (LEAP) program, a nationwide program geared to help underprivileged college students take the necessary steps to prepare for a career in the legal field, as well as “Choose Law,” a federally funded ABA initiative that helps underprivileged high school students of diverse backgrounds pay and prepare for college.
South Dakota and Texas Mentoring Programs
Like USBA, affiliates across the country are providing valuable mentorships to the legal community. The South Dakota Bar Association, for example, has partnered with the University of South Dakota School of Law to pair first-year law students with practicing attorneys and allow the mentoring relationship to develop to meet the needs and desires of the mentee. Sarah Theophilus, in-house counsel of the Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas and a 2002 graduate of the University of South Dakota School of Law comments: “Our mentoring program helps first-year law students see the big picture and the long-term journey of a legal career.”
Young lawyers and law students in Texas also are reaping the benefits of the mentoring programs offered by the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA). Most notably, TYLA’s newest mentoring program, “Ten Minute Mentor Goes to Law School,” is an online collection of video presentations created for law students. The videos are geared toward the busy law student, being ten minutes or less, free of charge, and address a host of useful topics.
“Ten Minute Mentor Goes to Law School” is an extension of “Ten Minute Mentor,” which TYLA created in 2004. An efficient way to reach Texas’s 24,000 young lawyers, “Ten Minute Mentor” is clearly a valuable resource to the state’s legal profession, with nearly 30,000 segments viewed online in 2008 and a record number of segments being viewed this year. According to Sylvia Cardona, the 2008–2009 President of the TYLA, “a vital component of the success of ‘Ten Minute Mentor’ is TYLA’s partnership with the Texas Bar Association,” which allows TYLA to record short interviews with experts who attend the state bar’s CLEs.
A mentoring relationship, be it one-on-one or online, is, according to Cardona, “a way to show that someone truly cares about you and the growth of your career and ideally instills in the mentee the passion to serve as a mentor for someone else.” Cardona urges other affiliates to launch their own version of “Ten Minute Mentor.”
To learn more about “Ten Minute Mentor Goes to Law School,” please visit