Mentoring

Mentoring is a time honored legal tradition and a cornerstone of the American Inns of Court. This page is designed to offer resources and inspiration for your own Inn mentoring programs. The information weaves principles and goals for Inn mentoring together with practical applications for all levels and types of engagement.

The American Inns of Court Professional Creed states a goal of upholding "the highest standards of excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills" and attaining "the highest level of knowledge and skills" in every members' practice area.

Mentoring…

…cultivates professional distinction.
…fosters excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills.
…assists members in developing high standards of professionalism.
…leads to internalized principles of appropriate behavior consistent with the legal professions' core values.

Principles of Inn Mentoring

Here are four principles that should guide the creation and implementation of every Inn mentoring program:

  • Engagement: All Inns are encouraged to actively engage in mentoring as a regular part of their annual programs.
  • Participation: All members may participate, either as mentors or mentees, in their Inn's mentoring program.
  • Focus: Inn mentoring should primarily address the American Inns of Courts' focus on professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills.
  • Complimentary: Inn mentoring programs should compliment any existing mandatory or voluntary bar or court mentoring programs in their jurisdiction.

Goals of Inn Mentoring Programs

To further the American Inns of Court goal of fostering excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills, the goals of Inn mentoring efforts should be:

  • Values & Standards: Develop an understanding of generally accepted professional values and standards of behavior and the importance of professionalism in the practice of law.
  • Ethical Awareness: Build awareness of ethical obligations and of proper practices for avoiding mishandling of other's assets, conflicts of interest, neglect of matters, and civil liability problems.
  • Skill-Building: Improve professional skills necessary for the effective practice of law at a high level of competence.
  • Involvement: Develop an appreciation of the importance of supporting and improving the justice system, improving access to justice and the importance of active involvement in the profession and the community.

Terminology

The National Office has chosen to use the terms “mentor” to denote the person dispensing advice and counsel and “mentee” to denote the person on the receiving end. We have done this because we believe that mentoring can be found in all kinds of relationships, at different levels and stages of careers and through varying interests and skill sets.  We find that many of the other terms used for “mentee” connote very specific and proscriptive relationships; we want to avoid boxing people in. However, at the Inn level, you may choose to use different terms that work for your Inn culture and program…and that is A-OK!

Be bold. Be creative. Be successful.
Have a story you want to share?
We want to hear it!
Have a question about mentoring?
We’re here to answer it!
Running out of ideas?
We’re here to help!

mentoring@innsofcourt.org

A message from the American Inns of Court President Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart:

Mentoring is a cardinal principle of the American Inns of Court. It is axiomatic that formal law training provides the foundation for our legal careers, but a lifelong learning process is necessary to the achievement of excellence in our profession. That learning process is enhanced by the intentionality of lawyers and judges who regularly participate in mentoring programs. Though mentoring is not a new concept, ever evolving discussions about professionalism, including the adoption of Professionalism Creeds by many states, seem to have led to additional structured mentoring programs. These initiatives recognize that a large number of new lawyers will not be able to benefit from the well-established mentoring programs frequently found in large law firms, judicial chambers, corporate sectors or public service organizations. Mentoring is not only of great value to new attorneys, but it strengthens our profession, as well.