A mentor is someone who takes an active and invested interest in your career. They are not a supervisor or critic but someone who acts as a teacher or coach. The purpose of the IMLA Mentorship Program is to help support the career growth of attorneys new to the practice of local government law and to help facilitate networking between local government attorneys. The program endeavors to assist new local government attorneys in acquiring substantive knowledge, practical skills and professional judgment while also helping them with assistance resources for networking and professional engagement as well as how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Any communication between the mentor and the new lawyer arising out of participation in the program is for the sole purpose of guiding and teaching the new lawyer about the practice of law and the issues that the new lawyer is likely to face in the practice of law. The mentor is not assuming any responsibility or liability for any legal matter related to the mentee’s work. The mentee should refrain from disclosing any confidential client information under the appropriate rules of professional conduct.
Once IMLA makes a mentor / mentee assignment, please establish contact within two weeks. The mentor should initiate contact. If the mentee does not hear from the mentor in this time, please email email@example.com so that IMLA can help facilitate initial communication.
Both parties should prepare for your first meeting by thinking about your objectives for the mentorship relationship. Focus on your goals and make efficient use of your time. Use your first meeting to create a clear scope for the mentoring relationship. IMLA recommends that the mentor and mentee create a mentoring plan during this meeting. What do you hope to gain as the mentee? Mentor, how do you believe you can best help the mentee succeed? Ask yourselves these questions before your first meeting and come prepared to establish the objectives for the relationship. Remember that both parties are invested in the outcome of the mentoring relationship.
During your first meeting, you should go over your objectives, determine how you will handle confidential information. During this meeting, the mentor should give a brief career history, including describing any mentors that have impacted the mentor’s career. The parties should discuss the mentee’s career goals and interests. Both the mentor and mentee should actively listen and ask questions.
Mentor and mentee should also establish a schedule for regular check-ins with each other during this first meeting. Put the meetings on your calendars ahead of time. But having pre-established meeting times should not prevent the mentee from reaching out to the mentor with a more time-sensitive issue.
The goal of the mentor / mentee program is to build a supportive and meaningful mentor relationship. This can be done by providing constructive feedback and being respectful and responsive. There is no such thing as a “dumb question” in the context of this relationship and mentees should feel comfortable asking their mentors questions.
Mentors should encourage mentees to attend IMLA events and should plan on meeting with their mentees in person at the outset of any IMLA conferences / events which they are both attending. Even if the mentor is unable to attend an IMLA event that the mentee will attend, the mentor should meet (via zoom or call) with the mentee before the conference to discuss objectives for the mentee to achieve from the event, including developing networking strategies and helping facilitate other introductions for the mentee for those that will be in attendance. Mentors should also encourage mentees to get involved in IMLA via a variety of available options, including working groups, sections, by participating in webinars, writing articles or papers, or speaking at conferences.
Prospective mentees may apply by filling out this form. Mentees should be new to the practice of local government law (five years or less).
Prospective mentors may apply by filling out this form. IMLA fellows are invited to apply to become mentors. Other IMLA members who have practiced local government law for at least ten years and are in good standing with their state/provincial bar are also welcome to apply.
IMLA will endeavor to assign mentors either by subject matter interest, population size, or geographic region but cannot guarantee such an assignment. Mentors cannot be the direct supervisor of the mentees and IMLA will not assign a mentor and mentee from the same office.
IMLA is acting as a conduit to facilitate the introduction to the mentoring relationship and specifically disclaims all liability as a result of any actions or omissions on the part of the mentor or mentee in connection with the mentoring relationship. Mentees should not rely on mentors for legal advice. Both mentors and mentees shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless IMLA along with its employees and officers for all liability of any kind related to the performance of the mentoring relationship.