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  • InsideTrack
  • September 15, 2021

    'There's A Lot to Gain:' State Bar Mentoring Program Needs Mentors and Mentees

    With a modest investment in time, experienced lawyers help not just a young lawyer, but the profession. And young lawyers can get a boost in the areas where they need it. Sign up as a mentor or mentee for the State Bar of Wisconsin's mentoring program, Ready.Set.Practice. Mentee sign-up deadline is Oct. 15.
    Marisol González Castillo

    Sept. 15, 2021 – As a new, first generation Latinx attorney in 2019, Marisol González Castillo sought to gain insight into what her life as a lawyer was going to be like. “It was crucial to me to gain perspective from someone with a similar background,” she said.

    She wanted to make a plan for her career, and to learn what law school didn’t teach her.

    That was when Marisol, an associate attorney with Hawks Quindel, S.C., Madison, found the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Ready.Set.Practice. mentoring program. Through the program, she was matched with her mentor, Michelle Velasquez of Civitas Law Group, Milwaukee.

    “Michelle helped me learn a lot about what I wanted to do with my career,” Marisol said.

    Michelle listened as Marisol voiced ​her concerns about not knowing the practical side of practicing. “She helped me understand that a lot of these concerns and feelings were normal for someone starting off,” Marisol said.

    Marisol learned more than she anticipated. “I also learned about giving back to the community. At that time, Michelle was not only running her own practice, but was also involved in so many organizations and volunteer opportunities. Seeing her in action made me realize how important that work was.”

    They connected via email and text, and would meet for lunch about once per month. Through Michelle’s guidance, Marisol became acquainted with other attorneys and to the wider legal community.

    In fact, Michelle’s guidance also helped Marisol gain confidence not only in her value and abilities as a Spanish-speaking attorney, but also to seek a new position that fit her better.

    Her advice: Sign up. “There is a lot to gain and little or nothing to lose,” Marisol said.

    “You are likely to gain a lot of valuable help and advice. With Michelle, I not only learned about myself and my career, but she also connected me with other people and organizations that have allowed me to grow in my career. They are connections I don’t think I’d be able to make otherwise,” Marisol said.

    “I encourage mentors to participate, because it is an amazing way to give back to the legal community. There is so much knowledge that can easily be given to others – especially new attorneys – just by being an attorney who has been practicing for several years.”

    Get a Mentor / Be a Mentor

    The State Bar’s Ready.Set.Practice. mentoring program is open for applications.

    Ready.Set.Practice. is a volunteer mentoring program matching new lawyers with experienced mentors who can assist them with law practice management, effective client representation, and career development.

    If you are a lawyer looking for guidance in learning a new practice area, or an experienced lawyer interested in sharing your knowledge with a colleague, this program is for you.

    Remember, mentoring isn’t just for new lawyers. It can be especially helpful at any point in your career when you are:

    • undergoing a significant transition;

    • assuming new responsibilities;

    • entering a new role, including becoming a partner or a senior manager.

    With the increasing number of retiring attorneys, the dwindling number of attorneys practicing in nonurban areas of the state could mean growing opportunities for those willing to relocate.

    For anyone considering a move to a nonurban setting, the Ready.Set.Practice. program is a great way to connect with a local attorney and begin the process of assimilating into the community. Talk to any attorney who practices in a nonurban setting, and the first thing they recommend is to find a mentor.

    More About the Program

    The program runs the calendar year, from January to December 2022.

    Candidates for mentees and mentors are selected based on:

    • reason for wanting to participate in the program;

    • level of commitment to serving as a resource for future program participants; and

    • geographic and background diversity to establish a strong foundation for the program.

    Mentors and mentees who sign up for the year-long program will watch a short webinar training and receive a handbook.

    Mentees and Mentors: Sign Up by Oct. 15​

    Sign up by filling out the application at Don’t hesitate – we’ll be filling the openings on a first come, first served basis.

    Questions? Contact Karen Beall, State Bar member services program assistant.

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