Attorney Match is the result of a partnership between the State Bar of Montana and ALPS. As part of Attorney Match, lawyers can create a profile and identify themselves as “looking for someone to mentor” or “looking for a mentor.” There are additional categories available as well depending on an attorney’s networking interests. Attorneys can then search by category or area to find other attorneys with matching interests.
Attorney Match is a tool for bar associations and practitioners to develop more proactive mentorship programs based on community needs.
Signing up for Attorney Match only takes 5 minutes. Click the button below to sign up.
TIPS ON SIGNING UP TO BE A MENTOR
GENERAL ALPS FAQs
GUIDELINES FOR MENTORSHIP RELATIONSHIP
Draft an Attorney Match profile that describes exactly what you are looking for and willing to provide. You may indicate that you are interested in mentoring only on certain issues, on a specific case, or on the practice of law generally. The needs of mentees will vary greatly and so will the offers of mentors.
Attorney Profile examples:
- “I am willing to mentor on the nuts and bolts of setting up a private rural practice.”
- “I am interested in mentoring on client management”
- “I am interested in serving as a mentor in a pro bono family law case”
Set clear expectations
Mentorship can mean different things to different people. Before you have agreed to serve as a mentor, make sure that you have set parameters regarding (1) method and frequency contact (2) scope of mentorship (substance and length) (3) level of involvement.
You may want to form a mentorship agreement. A template is available through the State Bar of Montana at [Link to template agreement].
Attorneys in Montana are very diverse in their interests, approaches, styles and practices areas. Therefore, it is not only expected, but encouraged, that mentors be thoughtful before entering into a mentorship relationship.
If you receive a mentorship request that you do not feel comfortable with, you may deny the request. It would be best practice to possibly refer the requesting mentee to a colleague or the State Bar to assist in locating a more appropriate fit.
If you are engaged in a mentorship relationship that becomes uncomfortable for any reason, communicate with the mentee honestly and consult the State Bar of Montana to assist in unresolved issues.
What are the benefits to being a mentor?
You will be providing a valuable pro bono service which satisfies Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. You will share your time with other professionals, fostering a collegial legal profession. Most importantly, you will be expanding the growth of pro bono service in the legal community.
How do I define the scope of a mentorship arrangement?
The actual scope of the arrangement may vary. Mutual agreement about the scope of the mentorship is central to the relationship.
Mentees are encouraged to ask questions regarding substantive, practical or ethical issues which they may encounter. Mentees should not be afraid to ask even the most basic questions. Remember that Mentors probably had similar experiences when they began in the practice area and Mentors are more than happy to answer questions.
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 shall not be required to perform any research as a result of an inquiry.
How do I serve as a mentor on certain issues
You may be sought out as a mentor because of your area of expertise or professional profile.
As this type of mentor you may find yourself referring the mentee to legal resources that will help the mentee start building a similar knowledge base. You may also find yourself connecting the mentees with other colleagues or community resources that you think the mentee will find helpful.
How do I serve as a mentor on a specific case?
Attorney supervision on a specific case may involve substantive questions on the law and review of case documents. You may be asked to explain court procedures or review legal strategies to provide general guidance. For example, a new attorney who receives a discovery request may not be familiar with the reasonable level of detail in these requests and would appreciate some guidance on how much information must be disclosed.
A mentor is not expected to do legal research for mentees. If mentees ask very detailed questions, mentors may refer mentees to specialists they know who practice in those areas of law. A mentor may also respond to specific questions with their general observations. New lawyers are not familiar with the boundary between general legal knowledge and legal argument. That is, mentees may ask overly specific questions because they merely think you might know the answer. Sharing your lack of specific knowledge may help the mentee focus their work appropriately.
Providing template forms and example filings may be very helpful to your mentee. It is not necessary that you appear as co-counsel with your mentee or disclose your relationship to the court. Mentors are, however, encouraged to provide mentees with names of other attorneys who could act as co-counsel or to whom cases may be referred. As a mentor on a specific case you may also find yourself providing information on the general practice of law.
What do I do if I become overwhelmed with mentees?
You change your profile features at any time. If you become overwhelmed with inquiries from mentees, you can list yourself as not willing to mentor for a certain period of time.
What is the role for a mentor regarding the general practice of law?
Some areas that you may find yourself advising your mentee regarding the general practice of law include:
- Law Office Economics – Mentees may be opening their own offices, either solo or with other newer lawyers, and things which are axiomatic to mentors may not occur to mentees. From management of trust accounts to local bar meetings, your experience as a practicing attorney in your community is one of the most valuable things you can share with your mentee.
- Client Management – Client management is the most challenging aspect of the legal practice for many young lawyers. A mentor may be able to provide general techniques and [perspectives on client interviews including length, scheduling, or pricing. A mentor may also provide general suggestions on listening to clients, communicating expectations, and attorney time management with demanding clients. For some, the structuring of the mentor-mentee relationship may provide a good example of effective communication and relationship building.
- Ethical Questions – Matters which automatically raise red flags for mentors may be hidden pitfalls to mentees. For example, mentees may not realize that representing a group of clients raises the possibility of conflicts of interest. If a mentor senses that her/his mentee is risking an ethical problem because the mentee may be unaware of the applicable rule, the mentor should discuss these concerns. It is advisable to point out the negative consequences to their career and the importance of protecting their professional reputation in the community.
Community Relationships - Mentors may be able to assist mentees by directing them to the appropriate person at the courthouse or law library, and by encouraging relationships in the legal community through introductions to the local bar president and other attorneys in the area.
- "What Goes Around" Theory - Perhaps the most valuable thing mentors can impart to their mentees is a discussion of the "what goes around" theory. That theory holds that whatever conduct or manner of practice mentees develop will be sent out into the world and will usually, sooner or later, come back to mentees in roughly the form in which they sent it out. Remind mentees that we are all in the same profession and that we can make life pleasant or miserable for others and ourselves.
Provide example pleadings and documents – “Praecipe” is a weird word for new lawyer. Similar words and terminology common in legal pleading may not make much sense. District Court rules provide requirements for pleadings but common formatting or terminology is not common knowledge. Providing standard formatted pleadings can be very helpful to your mentee.
- Training and Legal Resources – As an experienced attorney you probably have a sense for the most helpful resources on a particular legal topic. You are also probably the member of certain sections, committees or professional associations that provide you with helpful information. You may be able to connect your mentee to helpful professional networks and training opportunities.
What about client confidentiality and mentorship?
When mentees and mentors are discussing a particular case, they should pose their questions in the form of hypotheticals, not only to avoid disclosing their clients’ identities but also to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Detailed conversation about the specifics of the problem and situation of a client may require prior consent from the client before making such disclosure. Failure to obtain this consent may violate the Rules of Professional Conduct. If a client’s identify must be disclosed, the Mentor shall ascertain that no conflicts of interest exists before responding to the inquiring mentee.
Mentees may be affiliated with large firms, small firms or starting their own practices. Please be sensitive to the fact that mentees' questions may reveal information that should be kept confidential. Mentees might ask mentors questions which they would be embarrassed to ask a member of their firm, and mentors can be very valuable to mentees if they are sensitive to the mentees' position.
What is a reasonable frequency and duration of contact between mentor and mentee?
Mentors serve on a voluntary basis. Mentees should be respectful of the mentors' time. The communication in a mentorship relationship will vary depending on the nature of mentorship relationship. Mentors may want to outline specific times of day when the mentor is more available as well as preferred mode of communication: email, phone, or periodic in-person meetings that are as simple as a monthly or weekly lunch.
What effect does the mentorship relationship have on malpractice liability?
Mentees may not exonerate themselves from or limit liability to one’s clients from possible malpractice claims. This relationship is intended to provide general assistance but is not meant to protect mentees from their own professional responsibility. See the example Guidelines for the Mentorship Relationship for specific details of the relationship.
Read the Guidelines for Mentorship Relationship before signing up for ALPS Attorney Match.