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ISBA seeks mentors

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Indiana Lawyer Focus

For attorneys who have practiced for a long time, it might be easy to forget what it was like right out of law school. No network – or at least nothing like the one they hopefully have a few years out; possibly no job; and possibly most important – likely no clue of what it really means to be a lawyer with little or no safety net if one does make a mistake.

While medium or large firms tend to have a formal or informal mentoring program for new associates, attorneys who have recently passed the bar but don’t have a built-in mentoring network at their firm, or have decided to hang a shingle as a solo, or prefer to have a mentor not at their firm may not have a mentor – yet.
 

mentor Kandi Hidde, left, has mentored Sonia Chen, right, since shortly after she joined Bingham McHale in Indianapolis. Chen said she appreciated just knowing Hidde is there if she needs her. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

To help them, and attorneys who have mentors at their employer but are looking for other mentors, the Indiana State Bar Association announced at the annual meeting on Oct. 15 that they will offer a structured mentoring program that would include six continuing legal education credits for the mentor and the mentee.

Attorneys who participate can receive the CLE credit either by having the ISBA pair them up, or by starting their own mentor-mentee relationship, as long as they follow the guidelines of the program and sign up through the ISBA, said Maryann Williams, director of section services for the ISBA.

Seasoned attorneys who are starting a new venture and would like guidance from someone with more experience in that area can also sign up to be paired with a mentor. However, mentors need to have at least five years of practice to sign up.

The curriculum must be completed within one year of entering into a mentoring agreement. The various requirements focus on professional development, civility, and ethics. By having mentors explain these concepts to new attorneys, the program will also affect how the new lawyers are perceived by and interact with the general public.

Specific requirements for the program – as well as the forms attorneys can fax or mail to the ISBA – are available on the ISBA’s website, www.inbar.org, under ISBA Links at the link for “Mentor Match.” Online applications will not be accepted but attorneys will get a response from the ISBA shortly after their mailed or faxed application is received, Williams said.

Within 30 days of signing the contract, the mentor and mentee will choose and report on how they will address the required topics in the coming year. Mentors will meet with their mentees at least six times in person, for a total of at least nine hours.

Activities suggested include for the mentor to introduce the mentee to the legal community and community at large, including introductions to attorneys and personnel at the mentor’s law firm and court staff; and other helpful information for the new attorney, including prison procedures, and how to get involved with local legal aid and pro bono agencies.

Mentors are also required to discuss substance abuse and mental health topics with their mentees.

To get the program started, the ISBA is seeking at least 500 attorneys as mentors and as of Oct. 21 they had about seven or eight, Williams said. Since the swearing in of new attorneys on Oct. 15, she has received seven or eight applications per day from new lawyers, and expects she’ll receive many more in the weeks to come.

She planned to start pairing up attorneys the week of Oct. 25.

She thinks more lawyers will sign up to be mentors when they learn more about the program and available CLE credit.
 

Inskeep Inskeep

“I think mentoring goes both ways,” Kenneth Inskeep, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis who was featured in the video to promote the Mentor Match program, told Indiana Lawyer.

The video, which features Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Nancy Vaidik, and retired Monroe Circuit Court Judge Viola Taliaferro, among others, is available online at http://vimeo.com/15774263.

“The best relationship is one where not only are you sharing your experience and knowledge after practicing for some period of time, but also includes the opportunity to learn what’s in the head of new lawyers as they start out,” Inskeep said. “Technology is ever evolving and attitudes are changing, so it’s helpful as a trial lawyer to stay connected to what people younger than me are thinking.”

He added mentoring is especially needed more now than ever, because lawyers aren’t as accessible to each other as they once were.

“It used to be you went to coffee shop on the town square, the lawyer hangout, and you could eavesdrop as the old codgers told tales of practicing law,” he said. “When you went to a different county, you’d get local counsel to help you because so much of it was very local and local lawyers were very connected. … Now lawyers practice in a much broader geography but have a much more narrow substantive practice.”
 

McMillian McMillian

While he has mentored a number of young attorneys in his almost 30 years of practice, starting when he was only a few years out of law school himself, one of his mentees, Jimmie “Tic Tac” McMillian, now a partner at Barnes & Thornburg who started there in 2004, called their pairing “a match made in heaven” on the video to promote the program.

McMillian said Inskeep was there for him whenever he needed help, including meetings for lunch, dinner, and the occasional late night phone call, and the help he received was very beneficial.

Another successful mentoring partnership is between two Bingham McHale attorneys in Indianapolis, associate Sonia Chen, who joined the Indiana bar in 2001 and joined the firm in 2006, and Kandi Hidde, who has been a lawyer since 1994 and joined the firm in 1999.

Like Barnes, Bingham has a program for mentors to work with new attorneys and to make sure they hit certain milestones every few months, Hidde said.

She and Chen are both in the litigation practice group and while they weren’t officially assigned to each other, they gravitated toward each other because of the cases they work on together and their similar styles of practice, which evolved into a mentor-mentee relationship they continue.

Chen said she appreciated that Hidde always had her door open to her and others in the firm who would have questions.

“Just knowing she’s there if I have a question makes a difference,” Chen said, adding that Hidde has been a helpful resource for professional and business development and with day-to-day questions she has.

Hidde, Chen, and Inskeep said the ISBA mentor program is a great idea because mentor relationships are invaluable.

“The most important thing is that each party be an eager participant,” Inskeep added. “A mentor must be willing and available to share what they have learned, while also being open to learning from the more junior person. And the less experienced lawyer needs to take the initiative to ask questions.

“One of more important things a mentor does is to be a supporting advocate for a mentee,” he added. “Oftentimes when the mentee falls on their face and you have to help pick them up and dust them off, you can then say, ‘Let me tell you a story where I did something twice as dumb, … but I’ve still been able to succeed and I believe you can too.’”•

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  1. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  3. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  4. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  5. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

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