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Jennifer Williams
President, Young Lawyers Section
2014-2015

August 2014, President's Message

Selfie with the President! ---of the State Bar, that is.
You can meet President Tom Frieberg too, as well as other members of the State Bar of South Dakota, when you come to the Statewide Swearing-In Ceremony on October 10th in the Capitol Rotunda in Pierre. As Bar Commissioners Brad Lee and Clint Sargent said during our recent State Bar orientation, “We are here for lawyers,” and “I love meeting and talking with lawyers [new and friends] because lawyers are great people.” Their sentiments couldn’t be more true. And to prove how approachable and supportive we are, don’t miss the chance to welcome the newest members of our profession and attend the Statewide Swearing-In Ceremony. Chief Justice David Gilbertson will administer the Oath of Attorney in the Capitol Rotunda, which will be bursting at the seams with attorneys, friends and family, and, in past years, Governor Daugaard. This ceremony is our chance to demonstrate to these newly-admitted attorneys that this profession in this state is one made up of people who are there for them. Following the ceremony is a reception, which, besides having delicious food, gives us the opportunity to meet with and talk to our new and existing friends. And if you need another reason to attend the ceremony, the Nuts & Bolts CLE will be in Pierre at Red Rosa that same day, ending just in time for you to head over to the Capitol.
The Mission Statement of the Young Lawyers Section is:
To support young lawyers and law students of the State Bar of South Dakota through organizing professional development and public service programs that connect new and veteran lawyers and promote service to the community and participation in the South Dakota State Bar, the legal profession, and the American Bar Association.
This past July 11th, the Board met to decide what programs and events we can do this year to further that mission. Our plan is to connect new and veteran lawyers by continuing to promote and develop the Hagemann-Morris Young Lawyer Mentorship Program. In doing so, we will have two mixers in each circuit, one before January and one after. Also, if you do not have a mentor and want one or do not know what this program is about, please let me or your circuit representative know. To promote service to the community, we voted to adopt a new public service program—We The People—and will be reaching out to you young lawyers to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for civics with local high school students. We will also continue the Speakers Bureau Program (which won an ABA subgrant!) and will be calling on you to speak to organizations across the state. With social media being the quickest and oftentimes most efficient way to reach people, we plan to be more active on Facebook and are looking at ways to add scholarship by the young lawyers to the State Bar Newsletter. As support to young lawyers, we have been creating a database of checklists relevant to many areas of legal practice, i.e., DUI interview checklist, divorce intake checklist, etc. This database is still in the developmental phase and if you have checklists you want to share, let me or any board member know. Lastly, we have organized professional development. On October 10, we will host the Nuts & Bolts CLE, and in February 2015, we will again hold Young Lawyer Boot Camps in Rapid City and Sioux Falls. Please do share with us CLE topics of interest and names of speakers you know we will benefit from listening to.
Cheers until next month!

Jennifer Williams




 

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Top 5 Common Misconceptions About the
Hagemann-Morris Young Lawyer Mentorship Coin Program

5. As a mentor I will have to teach a young lawyer how to practice law.
This is a very narrow view of the mentorship program, and not at all an accurate description of the program. While it may be true that some young lawyers will need practical help, and may have practice questions, mentoring is truly so much more than just that. Young lawyers need to learn about civility, how we as a small bar interact with one another, how to balance work and life, how to bill, how to handle staff, or partners, or possible career changes, how to be an active member of the Bar, and their communities. Mentoring a young lawyer can take on many forms, and may include walking beside someone and helping them learn the practice of law. But really, it is helping them learn to live life as a lawyer.

4. I am a young lawyer and don't know exactly what practice area I want to be in, or I don't have a job yet, so I don't need a mentor.
Honestly, this is probably the time you need a mentor the most! While job searching, who better to help you market and network, than an already established attorney? Who better to give you feedback on resumes, interviewing, follow-up, etc., than someone who has been there and probably hired a few attorneys in their time? And if you're not sure which area you want to practice in, most South Dakota attorneys are general practitioners, and will be able to expose you to, and give you practical advice about, most areas of the law.

3. If I get a mentor/mentee that I don't get along with I will be stuck with them forever.
Everyone is different, and sometimes their expectations are different. If there ever comes a time when the mentee or the mentor does not feel that the relationship is beneficial any longer, that person can contact the Young Lawyers Board and we will find a new mentor/mentee for you. You absolutely will not be stuck, and you won't even have to send the Dear John letter!

2. I mentor young associates in my firm, so I don't need to mentor anyone else.
Some young lawyers are fortunate enough to end up in a firm large enough where they may have many mentors within that firm. But if you refer back to No. 5, and see that the scope of the program is so much larger than just the nuts and bolts of practicing law, you will realize your experience is invaluable to young lawyers outside your firm. I have heard grumblings that civility, or rather lack thereof, is becoming a huge problem in our Bar. If you have ever thought that someone needed to teach a young lawyer something about civility, you are right. And that someone might just be you. There are many young lawyers who are not fortunate enough to have mentors within their firms, or they might be solo practitioners. We are all South Dakota lawyers, so I would encourage you to look outside your firm's four walls.

1. I have a mentor in my firm, so I don't need another one.
First, mentors within your firm are invaluable, so please take advantage of everything they have to offer. Having a mentor outside your firm does not mean that you do not appreciate the mentorship you have within your firm. But, what if you are a mom and no one in your firm has kids, or what if you are a single guy and everyone in your firm is married with kids? Who do you talk to about the issues you face, that no one else is dealing with? Or who do you talk to when you have a question about your partnership track, or your salary, or your bonus, or a conflict within the firm? If you have a problem with depression or alcohol, are you more likely to talk to your mentor first, or a partner in your firm? It is invaluable to have someone that you trust, who only has your best interest in mind that you can talk to in confidence.

I hope that these five misconceptions have been cleared up and that there is a better understanding of the Hagemann-Morris Young Lawyer Mentorship Coin Program. If any of these misconceptions have been holding you back from applying as a mentor or a mentee, I would encourage you to fill out the application and submit it today!

 

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