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President's Message: SBN Wants You ... To be a Mentor

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NEVADA LAWYER
EDITORIAL BOARD patricia D. Cafferata, Chair scott McKenna Michael t. saunders, Chair-elect Gregory r. shannon richard D. Williamson, Vice Chair stephen F. smith Mark a. Hinueber, immediate past Chair Beau sterling erin Barnett Kristen e. simmons Hon. robert J. Johnston scott G. Wasserman lisa Wong lackland John Zimmerman BOARD OF GOVERNORS President: Frank Flaherty, Carson City President Elect: alan lefebvre, las Vegas Vice President: elana Graham Immediate Past President: Constance akridge, las Vegas paola armeni, las Vegas elizabeth Brickfield, las Vegas laurence Digesti, reno eric Dobberstein, las Vegas Vernon (Gene) leverty, reno paul Matteoni, reno ann Morgan, reno richard pocker, las Vegas Bryan scott, las Vegas richard scotti, las Vegas Mason simons, elko Hon. David Wall (ret.), las Vegas ex-officio interim Dean nancy rapoport, UnlV Boyd school of law richard trachok, Chair Board of Bar examiners
Message from the President
Frank Flaherty, Esq., state Bar of nevada president
sBn Wants YoU
...to Be a Mentor, please
“There are many ways to improve Your Bar, and mentoring is perhaps the most hands-on opportunity you will ever have to influence the quality of new lawyers destined to become your colleagues.” The Nevada Supreme Court recently signed an order in Administrative Docket (ADKT) No. 0464 extending the Transitioning into Practice (TIP) Pilot Program. At the bar, we prefer the easy acronym TIP, as opposed to “Introduction to Nevada Practice and Procedure Program,” and in a petition still pending before the court, we are asking the court to amend SCR 98 and SCR 214 to that effect; but more importantly, we are asking the court to permanently amend its rules and make TIP the method by which we now introduce new attorneys to the practice of law in Nevada, permanently replacing the oft-maligned “Bridge the Gap” CLE program. Before I move on to talk about TIP, I want to again thank the many, many attorney volunteers and members of the state bar staff who have worked really hard on Bridge the Gap over the years; but in the final analysis, its fatal flaw was its one-size-fitsall approach. In contrast, the TIP program individualizes the transition into practice by pairing new attorneys with Supreme Court-approved mentors in a sixmonth program. Although a portion of the program is standardized – there are certain elements and topics that must be covered – much of the mentoring process is left to the sound judgment of the mentor and, perhaps even more importantly, the expressed wishes of the new lawyer (sort of like elective courses in law school). In fact, as part of the pairing process, many new admittees are connected with mentors who share similar practice goals and interests. Mentors are screened by the TIP Standing Committee and the Board of Governors, and are approved by order of the Nevada Supreme Court. Mentors are selected and approved based on their ethics, professionalism and professional skills. The realization that a mentoring approach to transitioning into practice made so much (common) sense was sort of an “ah ha moment” for many of us, but I think that is because we had already benefitted from, and perhaps had taken for granted, a formal or informal mentoring program in our early years of practice in a law firm, corporate legal department or in federal, state or local government offices. Looking back now, it is hard to separate and catalog all of the important things about practicing law that we were most
STATE BAR STAFF Executive Director: Kimberly K. Farmer Bar Counsel: David a. Clark Director of Finance & Information Systems: Marc Mersol Director of Admissions: laura Meyers Gould Program Director: lisa McGrane Asst. Director of CLE: stephanie Hirsch NEVADA LAWYER STAFF Publications Manager: Jennifer smith (jennifers@nvbar.org) Nevada Lawyer Coordinator: Melinda Catren (melindac@nvbar.org) Publications Specialist: Christina alberts (christinaa@nvbar.org) GRAPHIC DESIGN Georgina Corbalan
ADVERTISING INDEX
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Nevada Lawyer
January 2013
certainly not taught in law school (e.g., I don’t care what Table 1 in the Bluebook says, we don’t do Nev. Rev. Stat.). Rather than “bridging a gap,” the TIP program will “fill a gap” by ensuring that all new attorneys practicing in Nevada have the benefit of a mentor: discussing practical skills and judgment; explaining what is unique about Nevada courts and the local bar; stressing the paramount importance of ethics, professionalism and civility; and just “showing them the ropes.” And by extension, all of us, and the public, will ultimately reap the rewards in the form of new lawyers who are better prepared to enter practice. Kudos to SBN Immediate Past President Connie Akridge for taking a step back, seeing the forest and bringing the TIP program to Nevada after learning about it at ABA meetings with other state bar presidents. Aside from recognizing the value of the program as a natural replacement for Bridge the Gap, Connie also quickly made the correct decision to seek assistance from Justice Nancy Saitta and the Professionalism Summit Committee. Thanks to those committed and capable hands, the program is up, running and off to a great start. The TIP Pilot Program began in the spring of 2012, when 182 new attorneys were paired with 165 court-approved mentors. In the fall, an additional 76 new attorneys were paired with 72 mentors. Some mentors from the spring cycle graciously agreed to serve as mentors with a new “mentee” in the fall cycle. Mentors may receive six CLE credits, two of which are ethics, for each TIP cycle in which they serve. Most mentors spend between 10-25 hours completing the mentor plan with their new attorney. The bar has engaged in comprehensive surveys of mentors and new lawyers during the pilot program, in an effort to assess the efficacy of and refine the program. For example, some mentors suggested that their efforts warranted more CLE credit. The bar studied the suggestion and then broached the possibility of additional CLE credit with the Board of Continuing Legal Education. As a result, CLE credit was recently increased from three to six hours per cycle. Regardless of how much CLE credit mentors earn, 96 percent of mentors surveyed recommended serving as a mentor. Notable comments from surveyed mentors included: “Have fun. Impart important information.... Focus on larger, important issues like ethics, treatment of other attorneys, treatment of clients” and “This is a great opportunity to pass on your ‘wisdom’ and help out a new attorney.” Many mentors and new lawyers remain informally connected following completion of the formal program. It is likely that many will enjoy a cordial relationship for years to come. In my first column as bar president, I reminded all of you that the State Bar of Nevada is “Your Bar” and that we need your help in our quest for continuous improvement. There are many ways to improve Your Bar, and mentoring is perhaps the most hands-on opportunity you will ever have to influence the quality of new lawyers destined to become your colleagues. So, the State Bar of Nevada is waiting to hear from you. Please contact Lisa McGrane (lisam@nvbar.org) and undertake this very important form of service for Your Bar.
A Note From the Issue Editor
BY BEAu STERLING, ESq.
The theme of this month’s issue of Nevada Lawyer magazine is law practice management. Although solo and small firm practices are the focus of the issue, the feature stories will be useful to attorneys at any size firm. We take this opportunity to look introspectively at our practices, our ethical duties, where we get our business and areas where we can expand our practices. We also have an article with suggestions for starting a new practice and the hurdles an attorney is likely to face in doing so. Finally, we have an article on the difficult, but unfortunately necessary, topic of substance abuse and the resources available to attorneys who need help. We round out the issue with a submission from the bar’s Solo and Small Practice Section, a Dean’s Column discussing resources available to the small firm and solo practitioner, and a list of this year’s pro bono award winners, as presented annually by the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada (LACSN). From the largest firm to the solo practitioner, we hope everyone will find something of interest in this issue. BEAU STERLING, ESQ. is the managing member of Sterling Law LLC, an appellate practice law firm, and a member of the Nevada Lawyer editorial board.
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January 2013
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