The Illinois Supreme Court recently issued an order amending Supreme Court Rule 795 to allow lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring activities to qualify for professional responsibility CLE credit. The purpose is to enhance the level of professionalism practiced by Illinois attorneys. Specifically, the rule provides:
Activity of Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring. Lawyers completing a comprehensive year-long structured mentoring program, as either a mentor or mentee, may earn credit equal to the minimum professional responsibility credit during the two-year reporting period of completion, provided that the mentoring plan is preapproved by the Commission on Professionalism, the completion is attested to by both mentor and mentee, and completion occurs during the first three years of the mentee’s practice in Illinois. For reporting periods ending in 2011 or earlier, the maximum number of professional responsibility credit hours shall be four. Beginning with the reporting periods ending on June 30 of either 2012 or 2013, in which 30 hours of CLE are required, the maximum number of credit hours available shall be six.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 795(d)(12).
The Commission on Professionalism, which recommended the rule change, is developing guidelines for implementation of the new rule.
Most successful young lawyers benefit from productive mentor-mentee relationships. Experts agree that the success of the mentoring relationship depends on how well the mentee matches with the mentor. A mentor who faced challenges similar to those awaiting the mentee can provide the mentee with valuable insights about overcoming those challenges. Not surprisingly, women and minority attorneys often have more difficulty than other attorneys in identifying and befriending willing, well-trained and highly experienced mentors who have confronted challenges like those the young women and minority attorneys can expect. The Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities believes that the amendment to Supreme Court Rule 795 can help address this problem by offering greater reward to experienced attorneys who can commit to a long-term mentoring relationship.
At the October meeting, our committee held a lively discussion about ways in which we can assist minority attorneys in need of mentoring. We agreed to explore different options and hope to discuss some detailed proposals at our next meeting.
We welcome your ideas for ways in which minority attorneys can bring value to mentoring among ISBA members. If you have any suggestions, please contact me or any one of the Committee members--we would love to hear from you.
Chair, Committee on Racial and
Ethnic Minorities ■