Ten-Minute Mentoring--Nothing Short of a Success
By Timothy R. White
Timothy R. White is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and practices in Austin, Texas.
Has the boss ever put a case on your desk in an area of law completely outside your expertise? Or have you ever done pro bono work drafting a will or settling a family matter? Or maybe you are a new attorney curious about what areas of law are interesting. If you fit any of these criteria and have learned from your experience, then consider participating in the Ten-Minute Mentor Program.
The Ten-Minute Mentor Program (TMM) ( www.tenminutementor.com), which originated in 2004 under the direction of David McAtee, then President of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA), is a program that provides quick, informative, and free education on varying areas of law for all attorneys. The concept developed from discussions with lawyers across Texas who identified the need for a resource to answer questions that they might be facing for the first time or might otherwise be too embarrassed to ask at work. Answering questions as simple as, “I have my first deposition tomorrow, what are the practical things I need to know?” or “what are some of the tools for answering discovery?,” were the impetus for the creation of the TMM program.
McAtee realized that newer (and more experienced) lawyers across Texas needed mentoring and a resource to provide answers to practical questions, but he was not sure of the best way to respond. It became apparent that as the practice of law has evolved, more senior lawyers are focusing on their own practices and not as much on mentoring younger lawyers, at least on day-to-day matters. Thus, McAtee’s goal was to create a resource for all lawyers to provide and/or receive practical advice and mentorship. To achieve this goal, McAtee enlisted the help of Clay Scheitzach, the Chair of the TYLA Member Services Committee. “[David] came to me with the concept on a napkin and from that [we] worked with TexasBarCLE and many wonderful people at the State Bar of Texas to make the idea come to life,” says Scheitzach. Their initial vision was to provide a quick, convenient forum for new attorneys to turn to for practical answers. But, Scheitzach adds, “The original focus of TMM was to address the needs of new lawyers. Over time, TYLA has expanded the project to include resources for law students and paralegals, as well as more substantive areas for all lawyers across the Texas.”
Their vision has been nothing short of a success.
TMM now offers lectures and/or materials on more than thirty fields of law. Within each of these fields are a bevy of interesting topics. For instance, if you practice intellectual property law and need a crash-course in land use issues, www.tenminutementor.com is a great place to start. The TMM website allows you to search by category or speaker. Then, you can scroll through the topics and select the session on the one most relevant to your issue. Ten minutes later, you will have a little more knowledge and a great starting point.
Steve Toland of the Toland Law Firm in Austin, Texas, recognizes the value of the program and recently recorded a great piece on eminent domain. After working on a recent case in this area of the law, Toland learned about TMM in an article in the Texas Bar Journal . He immediately contacted the Texas Young Lawyers Association to record his message for TMM because “the timing in Austin just seemed right.”
The Texas program is run by the Online Member Services Committee of the Texas Young Lawyers Association. David Courreges, who serves on the Online Member Services Committee for Texas TMM, says “most speakers are contacted following a CLE presentation and asked if their topic could be condensed to a ten-minute speech and recorded for the website and 9 out of 10 say ‘okay.’ . . . However,” he adds, “any lawyer who wants to tape a segment is welcome to submit the segment idea through the TMM website.” Finally, Courreges says, “TMM is not just for attorneys, but also a great way for law students to get exposed to areas [of the law] that they would not otherwise get exposed to.”
“If you don’t live in Austin, you can participate in the program, as the production crew travels all over Texas to record mentoring sessions,” says Courreges. Richard Jones with the Texas Young Lawyers Association Production Crew echoed this position, noting that “the team has traveled to Houston, Dallas, and recently San Antonio.” February alone saw an additional twenty TMM sessions uploaded to the website. Richard believes that “the number of Texas TMM sessions available online exceeds 200,” and he sees potential for many more topics to be covered in the future.
Of course, some lawyers have been practicing for quite some time and are confident that they know everything there is to know about every legal topic out there. Perfect. These attorneys are essential to TMM as well, as TMM survives with the generosity of its volunteers. So, the program encourages more senior lawyers to take ten minutes to prepare a topic to educate others.
Besides being a tremendous resource for younger lawyers, TMM is a valuable resource for more experienced attorneys as well. Steve Toland, like all other Ten Minute Mentors, is experienced and well-versed on his session topic, and he recognizes that “TMM is a great tool to become better known as a reliable source for clients. It’s also a great resource to find other attorneys in other areas of law.” According to Toland, “TMM is a great help to both old and young attorneys.” Whether young or old, experienced or inexperienced, a Ten-Minute Mentoring Program is calling you.
Currently, TMM is flourishing in Texas. In addition, it is becoming popular in other states as well— Iowa has started its own version of TMM and New York is currently preparing the release of a similar program. For more information or to take part in TMM, visit www.tenminutementor.com .
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