Atlanta Intellectual Property American Inn of Court

The Bencher—July/August 2020

Rich Miller, the new mentoring chair of the Atlanta Intellectual Property American Inn of Court in Atlanta, Georgia, faced a dilemma. Participation in the Inn’s mentoring program was in decline. Despite it being a core competency of the American Inns of Court, multiple membership satisfaction surveys indicated that many mentoring groups never met during the Inn’s calendar year. During the previous Inn year alone, more than 40 percent of the mentoring groups never met despite incentives to do so that even included cash rewards and other incentives and prizes. One recent survey respondent said, “This is the third year no one from my mentorship group organized anything.” To energize, revitalize, and reinvigorate this core competency, the Inn added new members Lauren Brenner, Esquire and Reagan Charney, Esquire, to its mentoring committee. The committee then took a bold new step: It invented the “Cadre.”

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a “cadre” is a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession. Realizing that fostering communication, networking, collegiality, and camaraderie was a critical mission of the Inn, the mentoring committee seized upon the name as a way to initiate a new approach to the mentoring process. “mentoring groups” would now be known as “cadres.” The committee unveiled the name change by announcing that while mentoring was still expressly encouraged, there was no explicit expectation that one mentoring group member would need to “teach” something to another member for a cadre meeting to be successful. The committee designed each cadre to have four members, with one being a cadre coordinator. The cadre coordinator serves as the point person for the cadre and takes the lead in organizing cadre meetings. The committee maintains contact with the cadre coordinator during the year, providing encouragement and support. Importantly, the committee issued a survey of questions so that the best cadre groups could be assembled.

To ensure that the change was successful, Inn President Michelle Tyde, Esquire, suggested something even bolder: a grand cadre competition. The membership committee ran with the idea, and the Atlanta IP Inn held its first Cadre Cup in February at a duckpin bowling facility. Cadres competed against each other in fierce battles of duckpin bowling, with all food and beverage provided by the Inn. Winners of the competition received the Cadre Cup shown below.

Inn response to the cadre concept and the Cadre Cup confirms that the Inn’s mentoring program has indeed been reinvigorated. Nearly all those in attendance at the Cadre Cup provided positive feedback, with many members requesting that the Inn host a similar event as frequently as twice a year. Innovative thinking by creative members has recalibrated the mentoring program of the Atlanta IP Inn, positioning it for future success.