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Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 19, 201212:00 PM EST

The Florida Bar mentoring program rolled out in Jacksonville

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by: Christian George

During the summer before my senior year of college, I was lucky enough to begin working for Philip Bates, an attorney in Pensacola.

My role at the Bates Firm ranged from sweeping floors, picking up lunch and filing papers to legal research, writing, client meetings, and shadowing Phil at depositions, hearings and trials.

This experience was crucial to my legal education and fundamental to forming a foundation for my still-developing career.

In short, without the early mentorship of Philip Bates, I am quite certain of two things. First, Phil’s involvement in the infancy of my career taught me aspects about our profession that cannot be learned in any classroom. Second, with the exception of my work with Phil, there is nothing I would be willing to publish about my senior year of college.

Mentorship is crucial to the future of our profession. Individuals are graduating from law school in record numbers, passing the Bar exam and becoming members of The Florida Bar.

Due, in part, to the Bar’s increasing membership and to ensure the integrity and quality of its future members, it is rolling out its “Practicing Attorneys Mentoring Students” program in at least nine law schools in Florida.

The mission of the program is to enhance students’ character, competence and commitment to the legal practice by supplementing a student’s law-school education through emphasizing intellectual rigor, free inquiry, ethics, professionalism and professional service.

This is accomplished by pairing a student with a local practitioner who is committed to meeting with the student at least five times during the school year. They will discuss the profession or demonstrate the practice in action by taking the mentee to a deposition, hearing, Bar meeting, trial or other activity.

The program at Florida Coastal School of Law began Nov. 7. Ten local practitioners were paired with 10 law students who were chosen from a large pool of applicants. The mentors met their students for the first time and scheduled future meetings. The vast amount of practical education received by the students was readily apparent.

The attorneys participating in the program are dedicated to the future of our profession and have found involvement in the program rewarding thus far.

“It is truly awesome to be a lawyer in Jacksonville because of the courtesy and professionalism lawyers show each other in this community and it is important for us to instill these values in younger lawyers before they begin their practice so they can continue the trend,” Lindsay Tygart of Edwards Ragatz said about her participation in the program.

Charlie Jimerson of Jimerson Cobb summarized The Florida Bar’s goal in initiating the program in saying that “as established lawyers it is incumbent upon us to influence younger lawyers in such a way that it builds them up, encourages and edifies them so they can duplicate this attitude in others. This program will help us all to be the agents of positive change that we have sought to become.”

I can personally attest to the importance of mentorship from my experience with Philip Bates, as well as Rutledge Liles and Robert George.

Mentorship is key to preserving our profession.

As The Florida Bar’s liaison to Florida Coastal, I am excited about continuing to develop and grow the program here in Jacksonville. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact me at [email protected].

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