NLMP: Operating Procedures and Policies
The first years of a lawyer’s practice are a critical time in the development of professional habits, practices and character. This period can also be a challenging, and sometimes stressful, period as lawyers adjust to the pressures of practice management, client relations and the adversarial process. To facilitate this transition into the practice of law, the Oregon Supreme Court, in conjunction with the bar, has created the New Lawyer Mentoring Program. The goal of the NLMP is to introduce new lawyers to the high standards of integrity, professional conduct, professional competence and service to the public that are an Oregon tradition.
Shortly after admission, each new lawyer (unless deferred or exempt), will be paired with an experienced lawyer who has practiced for at least seven years and who has been selected by the Court for his or her commitment to ethics, professionalism and professional skills. Together, the new lawyer and the mentor will develop a curriculum of activities to introduce the new lawyer to the legal community and to the practical application of ethics, civility and professionalism. The new lawyer will also receive practical guidance about client relations and law office management, as well as explore practical skills in a substantive area of the law. The mentor will be a coach and a guide as the new lawyer adjusts to the challenges of law practice. Finally, working with the new lawyer will allow the mentor to see the profession through new, enthusiastic eyes and help the mentor understand generational differences.
The NLMP is premised on one-to-one interaction as a supplement to traditional classroom-style continuing education programs that new lawyers attend. Although it consists of a series of mandatory activities and experiences, the NLMP is flexible enough to complement and coordinate with existing law firm training programs as well as the special training needs of government, corporate, and public interest practices.
The success of the NLMP depends on the commitment of both the mentors and the new lawyers, and the Court and the bar appreciate the devotion of time, energy and skill that will be required on both sides. We are confident that mentors and new lawyers alike will benefit from the program.
This manual contains information about enrolling in the NLMP, developing the individual mentoring program, and certifying completion. It also has some tips for successful mentoring relationships, a copy of the Supreme Court’s New Lawyer Mentoring Rule, and selected Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct.
Questions not addressed in the manual can be directed to the NLMP Administrator, Cathy Petrecca at 503-431-6355 or NLMP Specialist, Karla Houtary at 503-431-6367 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operating Procedures and Policies
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- 1. Enrollment, Exemptions and Deferrals
- Enrollment in the NLMP is based on each new lawyer’s admission date, with the bulk of new participants enrolling within 28 days of the May and October swearing-in ceremonies. New lawyers sworn-in at times other than the scheduled ceremonies are also subject to the 28-day enrollment requirement.
- Within 28 days of admission, new lawyers must either enroll in the NLMP, certify they are exempt, or request a deferral.
- New lawyers are exempt from the NLMP if they have engaged in the active, substantial and continuous practice of law in another United States jurisdiction for two or more years prior to admission in Oregon.
- Requests for exemption based on law practice outside of the United States will be subject to review by the NLMP staff and/or committee.
- New lawyers who are not practicing law, including judicial clerks, may request to defer participation in the NLMP until they begin practicing, at which time they must immediately enroll in the NLMP.
- New lawyers who practice outside the state of Oregon will be deferred from participation in the NLMP if the bar determines that mentoring cannot be arranged conveniently. If a new lawyer who deferred for this reason establishes a principal office in Oregon within the first two years of admission, the new lawyer must enroll in the NLMP immediately.
- 2. Mentor Match
- The bar will match new lawyers with mentors based principally on geography, and whenever possible, practice-area interests. To the extent possible and practicable, consideration will be given to preferences for gender, age, ethnicity and other factors identified by a new lawyer or a mentor.
- New lawyers employed in law firms, government offices, corporate law departments, or other group practices may request either an “in-house” or an “outside” mentor. An “in-house” mentor is in the same firm or office as the new lawyer. An “outside” mentor is a lawyer not in the same firm or office as the new lawyer. New lawyers may request a specific mentor; if the mentor requested has not been appointed by the Supreme Court, a conditional match will be made pending the mentor’s appointment.
- The bar will match new lawyers and mentors as soon as possible following receipt of the new lawyer’s enrollment form, after which email notice of the match and respective contact information will be provided to the new lawyer and the mentor.
The new lawyer is responsible for arranging the initial meeting with the mentor, and the meeting must take place within 28 business days of the announcement of the match.
- Occasionally there will be delays in finding an effective match for a new lawyer. If the delay is significant, the NLMP will grant extensions of final deadlines to accommodate the needs of the new lawyer, and to give them at least one full year to work with their NLMP mentor.
- If a match does not appear to be effective, or for any reason may not be able to best meet the needs of the new lawyer, the participants are encouraged to inform the NLMP promptly so as not to delay the new lawyer’s progress through the program. The NLMP will seek solution to any developing issues, and will appoint a replacement match where desired.
- 3. Designing the Mentoring Plan
- The Mentoring Plan includes core concepts and experiences that will introduce new lawyers to the practical aspects of lawyering. The Mentoring Plan has six component parts:
- Introduction to the Legal Community
- Professionalism, Rules of Professional Conduct, and Cultural Competence
- Introduction to Law Office Management
- Working With Clients
- Career Development through public service, bar programs and work/life balance
- Practice Area Basic Skills
Parts 1-5 are comprised of specific topics that the new lawyer must discuss with the mentor and specific activities that the new lawyer must complete and review with the mentor. In Part 6, the Practice Area component, the new lawyer selects, completes, and then discusses with the mentor, a minimum of 10 basic skill activities in one or more substantive practice areas that best match the new lawyer’s interests. These 10 activities are entirely at the discretion of the mentor and new lawyer.
- During the initial meeting, the new lawyer and the mentor should review the required elements of the mentoring plan and identify the practice areas the new lawyer will focus on during the mentorship.
- The mentoring plan may include as many practice area activities as the new lawyer and mentor agree are practical, but must include at least 10 activities from one or more practice areas.
*The activities listed in the substantive areas are not exclusive; the new lawyer and mentor may supplement the listed activities or substitute others that they identify as basic competency skills. Similarly, if the new lawyer is interested in a substantive area for which no activities are suggested, the new lawyer and the mentor may develop a customized elective plan of activities designed to build basic skills in that area.
- The mentor alone is not expected to personally address all of the Mentoring Plan elements, but rather to be a conduit to the larger bar community for the new lawyer. If the mentor does not have experience in an area of interest to the new lawyer, the mentor should help the new lawyer find another experienced lawyer who practices in the subject area to assist in mentoring the new lawyer. If the mentor knows a member of the community particularly well-suited in one area, they can arrange for the new lawyer to work with that individual on an item.
- In the event that a mentor arranges for significant curriculum elements to be addressed by another member of the OSB community, the mentors may split the allowed mentoring continuing education credits, although to get credits the consulted lawyer may need to apply to and be approved for the NLMP program. How credits are split must be agreed upon by the mentors, and with the approval of the NLMP.
- A new lawyer employed by a law firm, corporate legal department, or governmental unit may complete an alternate mentoring plan based on the employer’s established training program, provided the program covers the areas required by the NLMP.
- A new lawyer who has completed some of the mentoring plan activities as a law clerk or otherwise prior to admission may also develop a customized plan with the mentor that builds on existing skills in the component areas.
- 4. Completing the Mentoring Plan
- The mentoring plan is designed to be completed in approximately one year. It is expected that new lawyers and their mentors will meet at least once each month for twelve months, and that each meeting will last approximately 90 minutes to allow sufficient time to review and discuss the various experiences and activities that make up the mentoring plan and to monitor the new lawyer’s progress.
- New lawyers who are mentored within their law firm, corporate legal department, or governmental unit may complete some of their required activities in small group settings rather than by individual discussion with their in-house mentors. Similarly, if programs are offered through sections, local or specialty bars, curriculum areas may be addressed in group settings through outside organizations.
- When all mentoring plan activities have been completed, the new lawyer and the mentor shall sign a Certificate of Completion. The new lawyer is responsible for filing the Certificate with the bar, accompanied by a fee of $100. When the Certificate has been filed, the new lawyer will be awarded six (6) hours of Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit that can be applied to the new lawyer’s next reporting period (not the first reporting period on admission). See MCLE Regulation 6.100. The mentor will be awarded eight (8) MCLE credits.
- The NLMP functions with two deadlines each year: May 31 and December 31. A completion deadline for each new lawyer/mentor pair will be assigned approximately 12-18 months from the match date. (For example, a pair that is matched on February 1 will have until May 31 of the following year to submit their completion paperwork.)
New lawyers must submit a completion packet consisting of the following items by their assigned completion deadline:
• the NLMP Certificate of Completion form signed by the new lawyer and their mentor;
• a copy of the mentoring plan checklist (Parts A & B); and
• a $100 completion fee by check (payable to Oregon State Bar) or VISA/Mastercard.
- A new lawyer who is unable to complete the plan within the allowed time may be granted additional time for good cause shown. Examples of good cause include health issues, a geographic move, a change in employment, or other circumstances that prevent the new lawyer from working on the mentoring plan. The new lawyer must submit a request for additional time in writing or by email, on or before the completion deadline.
- 5. Noncompliance, Suspension and Reinstatement
- A new lawyer who fails to complete the mentoring plan on time (and who has not been granted an extension) will be given written notice and shall have 60 days from the date of the notice to cure the noncompliance.
- If the noncompliance is not cured (by completing the mentoring plan) within the time allowed, the Executive Director shall recommend to the Supreme Court that the new lawyer be suspended from membership in the bar.
- During a period of suspension, the new lawyer may not engage in the practice of law.
- A suspended new lawyer may apply for reinstatement as soon as the mentoring plan is completed. In addition to the reinstatement application, the new lawyer must submit the Certificate of Completion, the NLMP fee of $100 and a reinstatement fee of $100.
- Upon receipt of a satisfactory application for reinstatement, the Executive Director will forward a recommendation to the Supreme Court that the new lawyer be reinstated to active membership. Reinstatement is effective upon approval by the Supreme Court.
- A reinstatement after suspension for not completing the NLMP has no effect upon any other aspect of the new lawyer’s status, including any suspension for nonpayment of membership fees, MCLE noncompliance or a disciplinary proceeding.
New Lawyer Minimum Continuing Legal Education Requirements
In addition to the NLMP, new lawyers must meet the new admittee MCLE requirement of 15 hours of accredited CLE. The 15 hours consist of practical skill courses, ethics (including a child abuse reporting course) and an introductory course in access to justice:
3.3 Reinstatements, Resumption of Practice After Retirement and New Admittees.
* * *
(b) New admittees shall complete 15 credit hours of accredited CLE activity in the first reporting period after admission as an active member, including two credit hours in ethics (including one in child abuse reporting), and ten credit hours in practical skills.… New admittees admitted on or after January 1, 2009 must also complete a three credit hour OSB-approved introductory course in access to justice. The MCLE Administrator may waive the practical skills requirement for a new admittee who has practiced law in another jurisdiction for three consecutive years immediately prior to the member’s admission in Oregon, in which event the new admittee must complete ten hours in other areas. After a new admittee’s first reporting period, the requirements in Rule 3.2(a) shall apply.
Unless a new lawyer’s participation in the NLMP is deferred, the first MCLE reporting period runs concurrently with the NLMP and ends on December 31 of the first full calendar year of admission:
3.7 Reporting Period.
* * *
(b) New Admittees. The first reporting period for a new admittee shall start on the date of admission as an active member and shall end on December 31 of the next calendar year. All subsequent reporting periods shall be three years.
The practical skills requirement of the New Admittee MCLE rule will address many of the topics that the new lawyer will discuss with the mentor. Programs such as the OSB PLF Learning the Ropes and other shorter programs provide valuable course work for these credits, and will augment the practical skills work achieved in your mentoring plan:
3.400 Practical Skills Requirement.
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(a) A practical skills program is one which includes courses designed primarily to instruct new admittees in the methods and means of the practice of law. This includes those courses which involve instruction in the practice of law generally, instruction in the management of a legal practice, and instruction in particular substantive law areas designed for new practitioners. A practical skills program may include but shall not be limited to instruction in: client contact and relations; court proceedings; negotiation and settlement; alternative dispute resolution; malpractice avoidance; personal management assistance; the negative aspects of substance abuse to a law practice; and practice management assistance topics such as tickler and docket control systems, conflict systems, billing, trust and general accounting, file management, and computer systems.
The introductory Access to Justice course must be one that is specifically approved as such by the MCLE Administrator:
3.600 Introductory Course in Access to Justice.
* * *
In order to qualify as an introductory course in access to justice required by MCLE Rule 3.3(b), the three-hour program must meet the accreditation standards set forth in MCLE Rule 5.5(b) and include discussion of at least three of the following areas: race, gender, economic status, creed, color, religion, national origin, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Note that not all programs approved for Access to Justice credits meet the requirements for the introductory course.
If you have any questions about your MCLE requirements or whether any particular CLE program will fulfill the new admittee requirements, please call the OSB MCLE Department at (503) 620-0222 ext. 368 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-8260, ext. 368, or e-mail your questions to Jade Priest-Maoz, MCLE Administrator, at email@example.com
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Tips on Creating Effective Mentoring Relationships
IF YOU ARE A MENTOR…
Take the early initiative. Although the initial contact is a responsibility of the new lawyer, we find that many new lawyers are hesitant to be overly burdensome to their mentors. Mentors should take the initiative to reach out, set up good times to call, and communicate their openness and availability early in the relationship.
Set both expectations and boundaries early on. At the initial meeting, set a regular date/time for your monthly meetings. Inform your new lawyer about the best time to call with questions or issues, when they are more likely to get your undivided attention.
Listen to your new lawyer’s concerns and, especially in the beginning, draw out those concerns that the new lawyer may be reluctant to raise.
Recognize that new lawyers may differ in what they hope and need to get out of a mentoring relationship. Adjust your own approach to assure you are providing your new lawyer with what he or she is seeking, rather than any fixed perceptions of what your role may entail.
Create a safe environment for the new lawyer’s growth by being accessible and non-judgmental, keeping confidences, and inviting open and frank conversations.
Acknowledge the issues facing new lawyers who are ethnic minorities, or who may face particular challenges because of their religion, sexual orientation, economic status, national origin or age.
Use your friends and colleagues. No one bar member can be all things to a new lawyer. Reach out to your fellow bar members to expose your new lawyer to a diversity of experience, approach, style and perspective. One analogy may be to consider yourself in a “primary care practitioner” role, while connecting your new lawyer to the breadth and depth of the bar as broadly as possible.
Remember that the only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked. Encourage your new lawyer to ask, ask, ask. Be respectful and responsive with your answers.
Your responsibility is not to direct or supervise your new lawyer’s work, but to be a coach and guide for the development of professional values and skills.
Share your experience and talent freely. Be the role model you would want.
Be candid about some of the humbling experiences you have had as a lawyer. Your new lawyer will be more likely to openly discuss their difficulties knowing you too have struggled.
Take the time to develop a meaningful mentoring relationship. At its best, this relationship is an opportunity for mutual learning and growth.
Bear in mind the program’s goals. In the rare event that a new lawyer is displaying poor professional habits, consider the best possible mentoring approach to address these issues for the long-term health of both this new lawyer, and the bar. Seek guidance from other experienced mentors. The goal is to develop all new lawyers in the highest ideals of professionalism. Simply withdrawing from the program could be a missed opportunity, and could defeat the larger purpose of public good behind your service.
IF YOU ARE A NEW LAWYER…
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Start by setting a regular schedule. It is highly recommended that the initial meeting includes establishment of a set schedule for monthly meetings if possible. Flexibility will be required at times, but having the regular meeting time will help the mentoring relationship develop more quickly, and the curriculum progress more reliably.
Be respectful of your mentor’s time. Be prompt and give plenty of notice if you need to reschedule a meeting. Make good use of your meeting time; come prepared with a list of things you want to discuss.
Your mentor’s “war stories” can be valuable learning tools, especially if you can relate them to a situation of your own.
Ask questions! Don’t let your ego get in the way of accepting feedback and constructive criticism from your mentor.
Do not cover up a challenge. New lawyers will make mistakes. It is inevitable. First acknowledging a problem and then correcting it will avoid any snowball effect or worse – impact on clients or colleagues. Your mentor could be an invaluable ally in helping through these challenges. Use your mentor as a resource, particularly in the more challenging circumstances.
Build multiple mentor relationships; your NLMP mentor will not be able to advise you in every aspect of your professional or personal life. Develop effective networks with peers, other lawyers in and outside your workplace, judges, family and friends.
Your reputation in the community will be based on your interactions with your mentor, your clients, your work colleagues, opposing counsel, court staff and judges. Nurture it and guard it jealously.
Address any problems in the mentoring relationship promptly. The court and the bar want this to be as useful and valuable an experience as possible. If for any reason, the program or the mentoring relationship is not meeting your needs, contact the NLMP staff to begin working toward a resolution. This program is intended as a service, not a burden. Changes will be made promptly to address your needs.