Denver Bar Association
December 2011
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A Seat at the Bar: Mentoring Program to Kick Off 2012 with Revamped Curriculum

by Melissa Nicoletti



he Denver Bar Association is now accepting applications for both mentors and mentees for the 2012 Mentoring Program. This year the program will be part of a pilot project that is a cooperative effort by the Colorado Bar Association and the Chief Justice Commission on the Legal Profession. For the DBA’s mentoring program to qualify as a pilot program, we have altered it to mirror the proposed program.

We encourage all DBA members who are interested to consider becoming a mentor or participating in the program as a mentee. Our goal for the upcoming year is to have 100 pairs for the program. The following is a brief description of the program. For additional information on the program and to sign up as a Mentor or Mentee for the 2012 version of the program, please visit 

Objectives: To promote pride in the profession; excellence in service; and strong relationships with the bar, courts, clients, and the public, through teaching the core values and ideals of the legal profession and the best practices for meeting those ideals.

Qualifications: To qualify as a mentee in the program, you are not required to be a member of the DBA, but you must be in your first three years of practice following admission to practice law in Colorado, or within your first year of practice in Colorado if you have been in practice three or more years in another jurisdiction. Mentees can petition for inclusion in the program if they do not fit into either of these two categories.

Curricula: The 12-month Mentoring Plan curricula is developed by the mentee and mentor, but must cover certain subject areas and include an initial planning meeting between the mentee and mentor; personal and professional development; the Colorado bar and legal community; history and importance of the legal profession; and professionalism and civility. A typical Mentoring Plan involves monthly in-person meetings between the mentee and mentor, which last one to two hours. The Mentoring Plan can be developed by the mentee and mentor to best suit their schedules and needs.

Benefits: Each mentee and mentor will receive 15 free CLE credits, including two ethics credits, on successful completion of the program (application for CLE credit is pending). The program has components that include group activities, but an emphasis is placed on the one-on-one professional relationship between the experienced lawyer and the new lawyer, because this is one of the best ways to pass on the values, ideals, and best practices of the profession.

Mentors Have Much to Gain from this Role. They have the chance to assist younger attorneys in developing important skills. Lawyers who have been mentored are more likely to stay in the practice than those who are not. The development of these close bonds also helps further the practice of law.

Mentees Can Take Control of Their Career Development. Sometimes new hires may expect the firm to be responsible for their professional development, because many firms today offer resources such as orientation, in-house CLEs, trial colleges, marketing development, retreats, and mentoring programs. However, your future success will in part be dependent on your ability to make connections with those around you and gain their trust and respect. It simply makes good sense to use these offerings to your advantage. Twenty years down the road you may be able to attribute your success, in part, to assistance you received early on from another professional.

The 2012–13 chairs of the DBA Mentoring Program are Melissa Ogburn and Craig Joyce. We will have a kick-off reception for the 2012 mentoring program Jan. 5. We look forward to DBA members’ participation in this very important program. D

Melissa Nicoletti is the Director of Sections and Committees for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations.

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