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    October 07, 2020

    Be a Mentor or Get One: Mentoring Program Helps Young Lawyers and All Lawyers

    With a modest investment in time, experienced lawyers can benefit 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.
    Yu Ha Kim and Kimberly Hurtado

    Mentor Kimberly Hurtado, right, helped new lawyer Yu Ha Kim, left, to build her practice via the State Bar's mentoring program, Ready.Set.Practice.

    Oct. 7, 2020 – Ask an experienced lawyer and they will tell you: The initial years of practice as a new lawyer are not easy. And it is much more difficult when you come from outside Wisconsin.

    “I came to Milwaukee in 2014 because of my husband’s job,” says Yu Ha Kim, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. She is a 2013 graduate of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, and became a Wisconsin lawyer in 2015.

    “I didn’t go to school here and didn’t know a single person,” Kim said. Lacking a network of colleagues in Milwaukee, she found it difficult to get going as a new lawyer. “I tried to build a network to get advice for my career. It is hard to do that from scratch.”

    That’s when she turned to the State Bar of Wisconsin’s mentoring program, Ready.Set.Practice, a voluntary program that matches new lawyers with experienced mentors in order to assist with law practice management, effective client representation, and career development.

    “This program is an excellent way to help young, aspiring attorneys get a solid start to their career, by matching them with those who can give them guidance and encouragement about finding a job, developing client relationships, fostering positive interactions with other attorneys inside and outside their firm, and other pragmatic business advice,” said program mentor Kimberly Hurtado, founder and managing shareholder at Hurtado Zimmerman S.C., Wauwatosa.

    Kim was matched with Hurtado for the 2019 program. “A student who pays attention in law school gets a decent understanding about the theory of law and its application, but the intricacies of developing a healthy legal practice are not something a young attorney can readily find in a book someplace,” Hurtado said.

    Hurtado was “more than a mentor,” Kim said. She helped Kim get her career going by giving practical and “inspiring advice. She connected me with lawyers who help me develop my career,” Kim said. “From the start, she was everything you can ever hope to get from a mentor.”

    Mentees aren’t the only participants benefitting from the program. “The enthusiasm of the young people taking advantage of Ready.Set.Practice is wonderfully energizing for the mentors that aid them,” Hurtado said. “The modest investment of time in giving a young attorney guidance creates a profound impact for that young person, helping them to excel, and as a result, betters our profession as a whole.”

    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 assimilate 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 2021.

    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 Dec. 1; Mentors Sign Up by Jan. 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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