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  • Inside Track
    October 02, 2019

    Need a Mentor or Want to Be One? Sign Up for the State Bar's Program

    The State Bar's Ready.Set.Practice. mentoring program needs mentors and mentees for 2020. Those seeking a mentor should sign up by Nov. 1.
    William Harris

    William Harris, second from left, poses with the group of participants in the State Bar of Wisconsin Greater Wisconsin Initiative rural bus tour in October 2018. From connections made on the tour, Harris landed a position with Wisconsin Judicare in Wausau - where he connected with a mentor in the State Bar of Wisconsin Ready.Set.Practice. mentoring program.

    Oct. 2, 2019 – In 2018, William Harris started a new chapter in his life: moving to a new city – Wausau – and starting a practice that included an area of law new to him.

    Harris sought an attorney with experience in trial work, who also had strong ties to Wausau and could help him get to know the city’s legal landscape. Seeing an opportunity, he signed up as a mentee in the State Bar of Wisconsin’s mentoring program, Ready.Set.Practice.

    Through the program, he connected with Lance Leonhard, a lawyer in Wausau.

    Leonhard introduced Harris to lawyers and community leaders in Wausau. Apart from learning tips on litigation, Harris now serves on the board of directors of a community organization – thanks to connections he made with Leonhard’s help. “I can also now count him as a friend,” Harris said.

    When Lance Leonhard of Wausau joined the program, he was matched to be a mentor for Harris.

    “In my career, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from some extremely talented lawyers and judges,” said Leonhard. “Serving as a mentor allowed me to offer a similar opportunity to new lawyers.”

    He chose to become a mentor after completing the State Bar’s G. Lane Ware Leadership Academy in 2018. “I can’t say enough positive things about the experience,” Leonhard said. “I encourage anyone considering participating in the program to sign up.”

    The program is a worthwhile opportunity, Harris said. “It’s a chance to meet someone who can be a resource, provide guidance to achieve your career goals. It is also an opportunity to make a personal and professional connection with someone who has been where you are and can help provide guidance along the path to get you to where you want to be,” he said.

    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 acclimating into the community. Talk to any attorney who practices in a nonurban setting, and the first thing they recommend is to find a mentor.

    Lance Leonhard

    Wausau attorney Lance Leonhard gives a speech at the podium as part of the 2017-18 State Bar of Wisconsin’s G. Lane Ware Leadership Academy on April 14, 2018. He used his leadership skills as a mentor with the Ready.Set.Practice. mentoring program.

    More About the Program

    The program runs the calendar year, from January to December 2020.

    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 Sign Up by Nov. 15; Mentors Sign Up by Jan. 15

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

    Questions? Contact Michelle Sherbinow, State Bar member services coordinator.


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