Curriculum: Guidance

In addition to the minimal requirements in each curriculum area, we encourage participants to think creatively about additional ways to approach each area to make the mentoring year as meaningful as possible. This section provides just a few additional suggestions from program developers and previous participants. We hope to further develop this area, and welcome recommendations to enhance this content.

Introduction to the Legal Community, Public Service and Bar Service

Introduce new lawyer to other lawyers and staff members at the mentors office or workplace, or ascertain that such introductions have already occurred.
Discuss a lawyer’s professional obligations regarding and the personal rewards arising from community and public service, and supporting and providing legal service to low income clients. Acquaint the new lawyer with Campaign for Equal Justice, the Oregon Law Foundation and/or other law-related charitable organizations. Acquaint the new lawyer with programs in which lawyers in private practice can provide pro bono legal services. Alternatively, have the new lawyer report on a visit with someone closely connected to these services.
Review and discuss the opportunities for volunteer participation in OSB and local bar programs (including the ONLD and local bar young lawyer groups) and how being involved in such activities promotes professional and personal development.
Escort the new lawyer on a tour of the local courthouse(s) and, to the extent practicable, introduce the new lawyer to members of the judiciary, court personnel, and clerks of court. (Encouraged for new lawyers whose practices will take them to the courthouse.)

Rules of Professional Conduct/Standards of Professionalism

Discuss the lawyer’s oath and the practical application of the obligation to protect the laws of the State of Oregon and the United States.
Discuss the core lawyering values of confidentiality and loyalty with reference to the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct. Some ORPC’s that could be emphasized include:
  • 1.7 thru 1.11 Conflicts of Interest;
  • 3.3. Candor Toward the Tribunal;
  • 4.2 Communication with Persons Represented by Counsel; or
  • 4.3 Dealing with Unrepresented Persons.
Discuss how a new lawyer should handle a situation in which it is believed that another lawyer has violated ethical duties, including the duty to report certain kinds of misconduct. Discuss what to do if the new lawyer believes he or she has been instructed to engage in prohibited conduct.
Discuss and explain the Minimum Continuing Legal Education requirements and ways to fulfill such requirements, including OSB programs.

Introduction to Law Office Management

If the new lawyer and the mentor are in the same firm, discuss the new lawyer’s role in the billing system. If not in the same firm, review and discuss good billing practices, or arrange for new lawyer to meet with someone knowledgeable about best practices.
Review and discuss trust account rules and best practices for handling of client funds, including importance of clearing checks before funds are drawn and authority needed to pay lawyer fees from client funds in trust. Review and discuss OSB and PLF resources.
Introduce the use of information technology systems in law practice.
Discuss resources (publications, seminars, research tools, equipment, etc.) that a new lawyer might find particularly helpful in his or her work.
Discuss the roles and responsibilities of paralegals, secretaries, and other office personnel, and how to honor and establish good working relationships with others in the office who are support staff, colleagues, or senior partners.
Review and discuss a lawyer’s responsibility as a subordinate under RPC 5.2, and as a supervisor of non-lawyers under RPC 5.3.

Working With Clients

Discuss the importance of knowing whom you represent, particularly when representing corporations, government agencies or other organizations.
Discuss client interaction, including tips for gathering information about a legal matter and appraising the credibility and trust of a potential client.
Discuss issues that arise regarding the scope of representation.
Participate in or observe at least one client interview or client counseling session.
Discuss how to decide whether to accept a proffered representation.
Discuss how to talk about and set the fee for legal services. Review retainers and fee agreements and discuss the importance of written engagement agreements.
Discuss how to deal with a difficult client and how to decline representation of the unrealistic or “impossible” client.
Discuss terminating the lawyer-client relationship and necessary documentation.

Career Satisfaction & Work/Life Balance

Discuss the importance of having a business plan for developing a practice and meeting both short- and long-term career objectives.
Discuss the importance of making time for family, friends, and other personal interests. Discuss how to manage billable hour or other performance requirements to enable an appropriate balance of professional obligations and personal life.