We are looking for the best law mentors in America. Our goal is to find the mentors who transform junior lawyers’ careers and even lives, study those mentors in depth, understand why they are so effective, and, in so doing, synthesize a set of behaviors, attitudes, and habits of mind for the benefit of all the rest of us who aspire to be transformative mentors. We hope to produce a work that is a manual for mentors, a source of inspiration, and a tool that new and newer lawyers might use to find good mentors.
Our methodology will be qualitative: we will solicit nominations, gather evidence of nominees' excellence, pare the list to the most extraordinary legal mentors, and then study the mentors where they work, interviewing both the mentors and focus groups of current and former mentees. We also hope to observe mentoring interactions. The interviews and our notes will generate thousands of pages of data. We will sift that data, identify what the best mentors have in common and areas of important difference, and organize the book by the common themes. We plan to finish our research over the next three years and complete What the Best Law Mentors Do by January 2019.
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Description of the Project
Project Goals The goals of this project are to identify the best law mentors in America, to synthesize the principles by which they mentor junior lawyers, and then to share these principles as well as the stories of these wonderful mentors by documenting them in a book.
Project Timeline We plan to complete our research over the next three and a half years and produce What the Best Law Mentors Do (Harvard University Press) by January 2019.
Project Design The project consists of four phases: (1) an initial phase during which we solicit and receive nominations; (2) an investigation phase during which we gather evidence of the effectiveness of our nominees and decide which nominees should be subjects of the study; (3) a qualitative study phase during which we visit each selected subject, interview current and former mentees and the subject himself or herself, and, if possible, sit in on mentoring interactions, and (4) an evaluation, reflection and writing phase during which we synthesize the data and write the book. Each of these phases is described in greater detail below. We expect nominations to come in waves throughout the project timeline as more lawyers learn about the project.
First Phase The focus of the first phase is to generate as many credible nominations as possible. The process started when we drafted our definition of “exceptional mentoring” and designed this webpage. We also drafted an e-mail to law school deans, state bar associations, large- and medium-sized law firms, state attorneys general, public interest organizations and other non-profits and the chief justices of the various state supreme courts. We plan to continue to encourage and collect nominations for at least one year, sifting for the credible ones, and sharing the credible nominations on this website. Here is our working definition of Exceptional Mentoring. Click here to see our nomination form.
Second Phase During the second phase, we will be more closely evaluating the nominations and deciding which warrant asking for supporting evidence. Nearly all will. We will contact each such nominee and nominator, asking them to provide evidence that the nominee really is an extraordinary mentor. While we will consider all submitted evidence, we also will have suggestions. Here are our suggestions as to some types of evidence we would like to receive. We also will ask each nominee for a statement of her or his mentoring philosophy. By the end of this phase, we will have decided who will be the subjects of the study. We have no doubt that we will not be able to study some very good mentors.
Third Phase In the third phase, having decided who will be the subjects of our study, we will conduct the study. For each subject, we plan to conduct a lengthy recorded interview of the subject, facilitate recorded discussions about the subject’s mentoring behaviors with focus groups of current and former mentees, attend mentoring sessions if possible, and otherwise collect additional evidence of effectiveness. The recordings will be converted to transcripts, and the transcripts will constitute our raw data.
Fourth Phase In this phase, we will study the transcripts, looking for common themes, mentoring behaviors, and attitudes among the subjects. We will then synthesize the results of the study and draft the book. We plan to submit the finished book to our publisher, Harvard University Press, by the end of January in 2019.
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About The Authors
Michael Hunter Schwartz is the Dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law, and he is a consultant to and a former Director of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning. Dean Schwartz is the author of ten books, seven law review papers, three book chapters (one forthcoming), and three shorter works addressing a wide variety of teaching, learning and curriculum design topics. Schwartz's books include What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press 2013) and a contracts textbook, Contracts: A Context and Practice Casebook, which was the first book in a textbook series he designed (and now edits) in collaboration with Carolina Academic Press. Schwartz also is a co-author of Assessment: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Law Schools (forthcoming 2015). Professor Schwartz is the former Academic Curriculum Consultant to the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, and he is the former chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Sections on Teaching Methods and Balance in Legal Education. Dean Schwartz has spoken about a wide variety of law teaching, learning and curriculum design topics on more than 125 occasions as a conference presenter (including an AALS Presidential Program and more than two dozen plenary presentations), and he also has been an invited speaker at more than 50 US law schools (including top-rated US law schools such as Duke University, the University of Illinois; the University of Wisconsin; the University of California, San Francisco, Hastings College of the Law; American University Washington College of Law; and the University of North Carolina) and to law professors from the Republic of Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Taiwan, and Chile. Dean Schwartz’s contract law course was selected by the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System’s Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Project as reflecting “exemplary innovative teaching." Dean Schwartz practiced law in Southern California i the areas of insurance coverage and construction law. In January 2015, National Jurist Magazine named Dean Schwartz the 11th Most Influential Person in Legal Education.
Kelly S. Terry is the Co-Director of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, a national organization focused on best practices in law teaching, curriculum design, and assessment that is sponsored by the law schools at UALR Bowen, Washburn, and Gonzaga. She is an Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Public Service Externship Program and Pro Bono Opportunities at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law. Prior to becoming a law professor, she practiced law for 12 years in a variety of settings, including private practice and state and federal government. She started her legal career as a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and, after that, served as an assistant attorney general in the Criminal and Civil Departments of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. Immediately prior to joining the UALR Bowen faculty, she was a partner for several years in a mid-sized commercial law firm in Little Rock, where she focused on business litigation and supervised associate attorneys. Professor Terry teaches the Public Service Externship course and co-teaches a course for first-year students called Professionalism and the Work of Lawyers. Her expertise includes legal education, externship pedagogy, assessment, and access to justice. She has published articles in the Clinical Law Review, the Journal of Legal Education, and the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy.
Theresa M. Beiner is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Nadine Baum Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law, where she has taught since 1994. Following law school, Professor Beiner clerked for the Hon. John F. Grady, federal district judge for the Northern District of Illinois. She practiced law with Howard, Rice, et al. (now Arnold & Porter) in San Francisco, where she specialized in commercial litigation. Her areas of teaching and scholarly expertise include Employment Discrimination Law as well as Civil Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction, federal judicial appointments, and Constitutional Law. In 2005, her book Gender Myths v. Working Realities: Using Social Science to Reformulate Sexual Harassment Law was published by the New York University Press. An interdisciplinary scholar, Professor Beiner has written numerous articles in the areas of employment discrimination law, women in the profession, and federal judicial appointments. Professor Beiner has visited on the faculties of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. The Bowen School has awarded Professor Beiner its faculty excellence awards for scholarship and teaching.
Kelly Browe Olson is the Director of Clinical Programs and an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law. She oversees the mediation, litigation, tax and consumer protection clinics, and state-wide Special Education and Dependency/Neglect mediation projects at UALR Bowen. In addition to directing the Mediation Clinic, she has also taught Family Law, Mediation Seminars, ADR, and Domestic Violence courses. She helped create the UALR Graduate Certificate Program in Conflict Mediation. She is a passionate advocate who focuses on educating law students, judges, lawyers, and other professionals on conflict resolution and communication. She is currently serving as chair for the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution 2015 conference and on the executive board of the AALS ADR Section and the Arkansas Conflict Resolution Association. Professor Browe Olson has also served on numerous boards and committees for the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts’ Court Improvement Project; the Arkansas Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission; the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission; Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Arkansas Women’s Leadership Forum. Nationally she has been a resource for the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Family Court Review and the National Child Welfare Decision-making Network. She won the Bowen School of Law Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service in 2004 and 2013. She is a frequent national and international speaker and trainer on communication, mediation, domestic violence and children’s legal issues. Before coming to Bowen, she was the Child Law Mediation Projects Coordinator at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she taught clinical and ADR courses, had a graduate fellowship and served as a Senior Editor of the Loyola Children’s Rights Journal. Before graduate school, Professor Browe Olson spent three years working as an attorney and General Counsel at a small telecommunications company. She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan and an LL.M. in Child Law at Loyola.
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Legal Mentoring Resources
Law Review Articles
Elizabeth K. McManus, Intimidation and the Culture of Avoidance: Gender Issues and Mentoring in Law Firm Practice, 33 Fordham Urb. L.J. 217, 221 (2005)
Fred Tannenbaum, The Second Half of Smart: How to Temper Your Intelligence and Become a More Effective Lawyer, 52 Prac. Law. 25 (2006)
George Kawamoto, Mentoring for A Public Good, 22 Hastings Women's L.J. 361 (2011)
James Backman, Externships and New Lawyer Mentoring: The Practicing Lawyer's Role in Educating New Lawyers, 24 BYU J. Pub. L. 65, 70 (2009)
Jared Lamb, The Path of the Law School: Three Implementable Law School Reforms, 3 Faulkner L. Rev. 343, 371 (2012)
Julie A. Oseid, When Big Brother Is Watching (Out for) You: Mentoring Lawyers, Choosing A Mentor, and Sharing Ten Virtues from My Mentor, 59 S.C. L. Rev. 393 (2008)
Lawrence S. Krieger, What We're Not Telling Law Students-And Lawyers-That They Really Need to Know: Some Thoughts-in-Action Toward Revitalizing the Profession From Its Roots, 13 J.L. & Health 1, 11 (1999)
Neil Hamilton, Lisa Montpetit Brabbit, Fostering Professionalism Through Mentoring, 57 J. Legal Educ. 102 (2007)
Patrick J. Schultz, Legal Ethics in Decline: The Elite Law Firm, the Elite Law School, and the Moral Formation of the Novice Attorney, 82 Minn. L. Rev. 705, 720 (1998)
Stephen D. Easton, Julie A. Oseid, "and Bad Mistakes? I've Made A Few": Sharing Mistakes to Mentor New Lawyers, 77 Alb. L. Rev. 499 (2014)
Oregon Bar Mentoring Program: Melody Finnemore, Wanted: A Few Good Mentors Concept of What Makes A Good Mentor (and How to Find One) Is Changing Rapidly, Or. St. B. Bull., April 2009, http://www.osbar.org/_docs/NLMP/NLMPManual.pdf
Richard J. Yurko, Mentoring: A Guide for Both Sides, Boston B.J., November/December 2003
State Bar of Texas Transition to Practice: A Mentoring Initiative for Local Bar Associations, 72 Tex. B.J. 766 (2009)
Thomas W. Cranmer, The Importance of Mentoring, Mich. B.J., July 2006
WHAT THE BEST LAW MENTORS DO (HARVARD PRESS FORTHCOMING 2019)