President's Message, Fall 2013
Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye. Calling all lawyers and judges – retired and still practicing. To paraphrase Bing Crosby, “can you spare some time” to mentor some less experienced brethren?
As your newly inducted president of the Omaha Bar Association, I have chosen to focus my energies on creating and growing a mentoring program for lawyers just beginning their careers in the Omaha area. It is my belief that we experienced members of the bar owe it to the newest members of the bar some of our time, experience and expertise. Let me explain why.
When I graduated from law school, nearly everyone in our class could find a job in the legal field as a lawyer. Not so now. Nationally, recent law school graduates are having difficulty finding and landing a law-related job. A recent survey showed
· 10.6% are unemployed and
· 62.8% are employed at a position that requires bar passage.1
Graduates in Nebraska are not fairing much better either:
· UNL law grads have an 8.59% unemployment rate and
· 68.57% are working in positions that require bar passage,2
While Creighton Law grads
· Have an 11.5% unemployment rate and
· 64.85% have a position that requires bar passage.2
Consequently, newly sworn in attorneys find themselves in a crucible of competition.
Any young lawyer, recent graduate or law student stands to benefit tremendously from pearls of wisdom from experienced practitioners. Whether you are retired, (are you listening Richard L. and J. Terry?) nearing the end, or are still going strong, your experience is valuable and can be put to use in a manner that will help our bar grow and mature in a positive way. While large firms often have mentoring practices in place for their new employees, a recent graduate or young lawyer who chooses solo practice (or still looking for that first legal job) may have little or no opportunity to interact with experienced lawyers in a mentoring relationship.
Whether it be over a cup of coffee or in a more formal meeting, many varied and important topics can be discussed and strategized. For example:
· what makes a good lawyer;
· challenges, traps and snares one is likely to encounter in the profession;
· the value of being honest and candid;
· handling oneself with integrity and civility;
· equipping oneself to meet the call of service to one’s client;
· the importance of zealous, and fair, advocacy for one’s client;
· securing and retaining clients;
· job searching strategies;
· career development;
· preventative practices to avoid malpractice;
· and, last but not least, balancing the often stressful practice of law with other important priorities in life.
These efforts are consistent with mentoring programs springing up around the country.3 Statewide programs, modeled on trend-setting mentoring initiatives in Georgia and Ohio, are operating in more than 20 states.4
Ultimately, one goal of mentoring is to improve the standards of practice for new lawyers and to increase job satisfaction. Another positive result would be a decrease in the number of complaints leveled against lawyers for lack of professionalism.
Creighton University School of Law is establishing a formal mentoring program with second year students and practicing members of the Bar. Additionally, the Young Lawyer Division (YLD) of the Omaha Bar Association in conjunction with the OBA has formed a task force to implement a less formal mentoring opportunity to match mentor with mentee. Please contact EmilyBeller@creighton.edu or DaveSommers@creighton.edu to get involved. Or sign up here: SIGN UP LINK
So, step up prospective mentors. Consider paying your experience forward. Mentees, I invite you to take advantage of others whose shoulders you may lean on in striving to put the best practices in place to envelope consummate professionalism.
More on this topic and ways to get involved will appear as the task force moves forward.
I have two other goals I hope to achieve during my tenure as President of the OBA. One is to continue to support the excellent foundation laid by past president Jennifer Petersen and Executive Director Dave Sommers in providing the most efficient technology for Association members to communicate with the OBA in order to better serve you more economically and efficiently. In that regard, please check-out the new Lawyer Referral Service video at http://youtu.be/dhMHoGWDqBE. Also, I intend to provide ample support for the bustling and burgeoning members of the YLD as they move forward with projects to enrich their professional lives and those of others in the community.
I look forward to a great year!