A new program in Utah requires newly admitted lawyers to have a mentor to get them started in the field. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, recently elected Bar President Stephen Owens, charged with implementing the New Lawyer Training Program, says it may be essential in a state like Utah. “It’s a very young bar,” said Owens, who at 41 is older than half of the state’s 7,500 active lawyers. The program is mandatory for all new lawyers who have just been admitted by passing the bar, and for lawyers who move to Utah from another state if they have practiced fewer than two years.
The reasoning behind the program is that though students learn a lot of doctrine in law school, they don’t learn about the everyday procedures that keep a practice going. Many of them don’t know how to file a case, or how to serve someone, even though they know the doctrine behind when these things can and should be done. Having a mentor to guide them through these basics is a great resource for new attorneys.
But the mentors also benefit. They will each receive continuing legal education (CLE) credit for taking on a mentee, as well as the personal satisfaction of helping out a new lawyer. Most of the mentors can remember a time when they were in the shoes of the new attorneys, and wish they would have had a mentor to help them out. And of course, the entire legal system benefits when there are better lawyers in it.