Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers Mentoring Program
The Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers (HAWL) invites you to join its Mentoring
Program. This program provides participants with an opportunity to form a mutually
beneficial relationship that fosters professional growth, career development, and personal
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR THE HAWL MENTORING PROGRAM
Why Do We Need Mentors?
– To introduce the law school student to appropriate norms and behaviors of the profession.
– To help the student recognize ethical dilemmas more quickly. – To help the practice of law reach a higher level of professionalism with better prepared lawyers.
– To help reduce the stress of the unknown experienced by law students as they prepare to enter the profession. – To help women realize that they can have successful careers while being able to balance it with their family and personal lives.
– To help make you a better, more professional lawyer. What Does a Mentor Do? – Offers support and encouragement.
– Provides advice and guidance.
– Helps to bypass bureaucracy and provide access to resources – ‘informal networking’.
– Uses their position to help the student gain an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge & skills.
– Clarifies the values and goals, the “big picture” and “unwritten rules,” of the legal profession. – Coaches and provides corrective feedback.
– Provides information to help student avoid harmful situations. – Serves as a role model, demonstrating appropriate job behaviors, attitudes and social skills.
– While you may wish to offer career advice and assistance, you are NOT expected or obligated to offer employment to this student. Why should I participate as a mentor?
– You can help enhance the spirit and intent of the lawyer’s code of conduct by promoting professionalism. – As an officer of the court, whether in private or government service, you have a duty to insure the high ethical and professional standards designed to protect the public.
– The public’s trust and confidence in the whole professional group is influenced by each lawyer’s performance.
– Mentoring forces you to reflect on what you are doing as a lawyer and allows you to experience a fresh sense of accomplishment.
My student does not respond to my e-mails. What can I do to encourage responses?
Keep trying. Ask different questions about classes, goals and school related activities. This may be one case where you could try short, yes/no questions, so the student can give a short response. You could try using open-ended questions (why, what, where, how) in hopes that the student may find a topic of interest to write about.
Explain how valuable a mentoring relationship can be in one of your e-mails. If you do not get a response after several tries, please contact the HAWL Mentoring Program.
If you would like to continue mentoring, the HAWL Mentoring Program will try to find you another student.
How should I communicate with the student?
The Mentoring Program provides several opportunities for you to interact with the students. Other than these scheduled activities, you can meet in person or communicate through email.
How often should I meet with the student?
The HAWL Mentoring Program requires one face to face meeting between the mentor and mentee each semester during the school year, although the mentor and mentee can meet more frequently if so desired.
The HAWL Mentoring Program strongly encourages you and your mentee to attend the Mentoring Program Kickoff Event, Shadow Day, the Holiday Party, the Spring Mixer and the Annual Dinner Banquet.
In addition to these events, the HAWL Mentoring Program highly recommends that you attend the HAWL Judicial Reception, the Diversity Picnic and the HAWL Softball Tournament.
All other contact between you and your mentee is up to you. How long will the mentoring relationship last? The HAWL Mentoring Program assigns mentors with mentees once a year, typically in the fall semester. The Mentoring Program is designed to last until the end of the spring semester.
The HAWL Mentoring Program asks that you commit to mentoring for the full school year. However, we hope that you would consider mentoring the student until they graduate. After that, the relationship is entirely up to you and the student.
Are my conversations with the student confidential and/or privileged? Generally, the student should feel comfortable asking you any question. They should be assured that you will not be judgmental about their questions and concerns.
However, they should also be aware of your obligations to the legal profession and duties under the Rules of Professional Conduct.
What happens if the student raises a question or situation that I do not feel capable of answering?
Questions such as: “I committed a felony, should I tell my law school or The Board of Bar Examiners?” or they discuss client information learned while clerking for a firm? This goes back to your obligation as a licensed member of the Bar.
The Mentoring Program pairs law school students from the Stetson University College of
Law and Thomas M. Cooley Law School (who are members of the Florida Association for
Women Lawyers’ chapters at their respective schools) with members of HAWL.
Mentors are encouraged to answer questions and give advice about aspects of practicing
law. Mentors will be an invaluable resource of practical advice, professional contacts and
support to aid and guide the mentees. This program is intended to help law school
students transition from law school to practice; it is not an employment solicitation program
or recruiting device.
The time commitment is a minimum of one face-to-face meeting between the mentor and
mentee during the program year (i.e., September to May); although the mentor and mentee
can communicate as often as they wish and they are encouraged to meet in person more
The mentors and mentees can meet this requirement by attending one of the events the
Mentoring Program hosts or by meeting outside of the scheduled group events. The
Mentoring Program strongly encourages mentors and mentees to attend its group events
(e.g., kick-off event in the fall, courthouse shadow day, holiday party, and spring mixer).
The Mentoring Program also highly suggests attending HAWL’s Judicial Reception, the
Hillsborough County Bar Association’s (HCBA) spring diversity event, and HAWL’s annual
sports competition against local judges. The dates of these events will be provided to the
mentors and mentees as they become available.
Benefits of a Mentoring Relationship
For the Mentor:
-Shaping the future of the practice of law
-Gaining personal satisfaction
-Giving back to the profession
-Reviewing your own strengths and weaknesses
-Learning from your mentee
For the Mentee:
-Having a person to turn to with questions about the practice of law
-Learning about the business of practicing law
-Receiving help assessing strengths and weaknesses
-Receiving objective feedback
-Developing skills for success
-Obtaining assistance with long-range career planning
What to Look For in a Mentoring Relationship
Mentors and mentees should have a good feel after a few meetings as to whether the
rapport is right for a mentoring relationship. Both mentors and mentees should hold respect
for each other and bring trustworthiness and the ability to keep confidences to the
Look for similar qualities in a mentor and mentee, as well as a sense of humor, good
listening skills, a high comfort level in giving and receiving feedback, and the ability to
discuss a wide range of issues. The mentorship is especially productive when the mentor
believes he or she can learn from a mentee, and the relationship is a two-way street.
Topics of Discussion
Discussions between mentors and mentees may focus on general issues related to the
legal profession and the practice of law, such as:
-Law school courses and Bar preparation courses
-Law practice transitions and alternatives
-Professionalism and legal ethics
-Practice and career enhancement
-Law office management
-Effective attorney/client communications
-Balancing careers with family and personal lives
Possible Activities to Build the Mentoring Relationship
-Attend a hearing or trial
-Have lunch on a monthly basis
-Attend a continuing legal education program
-Attend Mentoring Program events, such as the kick-off event, courthouse shadow day,
holiday party, and spring mixer
-Attend HAWL and HCBA functions, such as HAWL’s Judicial Reception, HCBA’s spring
diversity event, and -HAWL’s sports competition against local judges
-Tour the courthouse
-Invite another lawyer to join the mentor and mentee for breakfast, so that the mentee can
meet another lawyer and expand his or her professional network.
What to Expect from the Mentoring Program
It takes time to build a mentoring relationship. Give the mentoring relationship a chance
to form over the course of several meetings. Try to communicate early on to understand
each other’s expectations. The HAWL Mentoring Program is not designed to provide
employment opportunities or be a substitute for continuing legal education, but to foster the
highest ideals of the legal profession.
If the mentoring relationship is not of value to either the mentor or mentee, take the
initiative to discuss it. It is better to resolve the matter and end the relationship on a positive
basis. The mentee should not expect the mentor to have all the answers. Mentors should
guide from experience, and share those experiences with the mentee.
If the mentor or mentee desires to end the relationship and be paired with a new mentor
or mentee, please contact the HAWL Mentoring Program.
Mentee Feedback from past Court Shadow Days:
“Wonderful opportunity; HAWL did a terrific job placing students with Judges in areas of
law that were of interest to them; Judges Catlin and Moody were very inviting and helpful
in answering any questions I had”
“Kudos to everyone responsible for organizing the event and to the judges who so
graciously welcomed us into their courtrooms and chambers. Great experience.”
“Great program. I really enjoyed being able to go behind the scenes of a criminal trial with
Judge Greco. I hope to do this again.”
“The hands on experience is priceless. The day was very structured and informing. Being
able to put studies into perspective was great. Special Thanks to all of the judges who took
the time out to guide us through the day. Thanks to HAWL and FAWL for this opportunity.
Thanks to all who put this event together!”
(Some of the information provided herein was obtained from the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism on the Florida Bar website.)