Mentorship Program a Promotional Success
Nov 8, 2011
The State Bar of South Dakota had a problem. The supply of lawyers in rural areas of the state had been dwindling over a period of several years. Law school graduates were more attracted to joining firms in the cities, particularly those with a dozen or more lawyers, as opposed to going out on their own and starting a practice in a remote area. Further, the Bar saw an increasing disconnect between veteran lawyers and those with less than 10 years experience. They felt that the two problems were related.
They defined their objective to build goodwill and camaraderie between the organization’s young and veteran members and educate them on the value of mentorship among legal professionals. Their target audience was approximately 1,800 members of the State Bar of South Dakota, as well as dignitaries, judges, law professors and state bar association employees. They chose to reach out to this group with a mentorship program symbolized by a military-style challenge coin.
Upon induction into the state bar, young lawyers receive two round, bronze coins decorated with the scales of justice, the state bar association’s seal and the words “Scientia et Amicitia” (knowledge and friendship) on one side, and the design found on the minted South Dakota quarter on the other. That was a special touch that really resonated with the recipients. The coins were packaged in black velvet presentation bags. Young lawyers were instructed to keep one coin and give the other coin to their mentor—matches were made by a committee. By accepting a coin, recipients agreed to encourage, support and foster mentorship within the legal community. The exchange between mentee and mentor was done separately from the initial presentation of the coins, either privately or at receptions hosted by participating law firms.
The program, which began last year and is ongoing, is intended "to promote goodwill and dedication to core values of the law among them, getting veteran lawyers to share their good, bad and ugly with young lawyers so they didn’t feel so isolated," according to a representative. The mentoring program was a big hit among young lawyers and is credited with generating a lot of buzz among members of the association, producing true-life success stories in which young lawyers were able to start their own practices more easily with the guidance of more experienced mentors.hirt or unique decoration pays dividends in the long life and extended exposure of the shirt.
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