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  • Contact Information

    Bridge the Gap
    Mentorship Program
    PO Box 92860
    Albuquerque, NM 87199-2860
    (505) 797-6048
    (505) 797-6074 (Fax)
    bridgethegap@nmbar.org

 

Mentorship Program

“Bridge the Gap:
Transitioning into the Profession”

BillKitts

Bill Kitts
1920-1982

Albuquerque Lawyer Bill Kitts was a consummate professional. He fought fairly, honestly and eloquently. Bill litigated with courage and absolute respect for the law, its courtroom procedures and its personnel. Beyond his dedication to the law, Bill took on the mission to help newer lawyers as a personal responsibility. His colleagues remember him sitting through many a young lawyer’s first deposition or trial to assure that the client got the best legal advice and that the new lawyer learned how to accomplish the task in the right way.

When Bill was killed in an automobile accident his friends wanted to do something extraordinary to remember and honor him. They determined to carry on his personal mission through the Bill Kitts Society by providing telephone and personal assistance in specific legal areas requested by newer lawyers.

In keeping with the spirit of the Bill Kitts Society which has been in existence since his death in 1982, the State Bar of New Mexico, in cooperation with many voluntary bar associations, the UNM School of Law and many friends of Bill Kitts has requested that the Supreme Court of New Mexico require all newly admited New Mexico attorneys participate in a program based largely on the Bill Kitts Society. This new program, “Bridge the Gap: Transitioning into the Profession” intends to continue the spirit of the Bill Kitts Society and is dedicated in his memory.

The story of Mentor*…
Mentor first appeared in Homer's Odyssey. When Odysseus, king of Ithaca, went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his household to Mentor, who served as teacher and overseer of Odysseus' son, Telemachus.
After the war, Odysseus was condemned to wander vainly for ten years in his attempt to return home. In time, Telemachus, now grown, went in search of his father. Telemachus was accompanied on his quest by Athena, Goddess of War and patroness of the arts and industry, who assumed the form of Mentor.

Eventually, father and son were reunited and together they cast down would-be usurpers of Odysseus' throne and of Telemachus's birthright. In time the word Mentor became synonymous with trusted advisor, friend, teacher, and wise person. History offers many examples of helpful mentoring relationships--such as Socrates and Plato, Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung.

Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development where two people invest time, energy, and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of one another.

History and legend record the deeds of princes and kings, but each of us has a birthright to be all that we can be. Mentors are those special people in our lives who, through their deeds and work, help us to move toward fulfilling that potential.

*From Shea, Gordon F. (1997) Mentoring (Rev. Ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications

The Goals of the Bridge the Gap Program…

The five goals of the State Bar of New Mexico “Bridge the Gap: Transitioning into the Profession” (BTG) program are:

  • To train new lawyers during their first years of practice in professionalism, ethics, and civility.
  • To create a sense of pride and integrity in the legal profession and involvement in the organized bar.
  • To assist new lawyers in beginning the process of acquiring the practical skills and judgment necessary to practice in a highly competent manner.
  • To provide a means for all New Mexico attorneys to learn the importance of collegial relationships, organizational mentoring, including the building of developmental networks and long-term, multiple professional relationships.
  • To encourage the use of best practices and highest ideals in the practice of law.

This course came about because the legal profession has been increasingly concerned with:

  • Difficulties new lawyers face when leaving the academic environment of law school and entering the day to day demands of law practice.
  • Increasing perceptions of an erosion of professionalism and civility as the bar has grown over the years and lawyers have become less familiar with one another.
  • Increasing numbers of young lawyers leaving the profession, due to growing dissatisfaction with their environment, law practice and the balancing act a life in the law requires.
  • The great number of minorities leaving the profession.

By requiring a formal mentoring program, new lawyers are provided with tools early in their careers to help them develop into respected and ethical members of the profession.

What Mentors Say About the Program…

Upon completion of a mentoring program in a nearby state, lawyers said the following about their experience as mentors:

  • This mentoring program “helped me realize I have learned a lot about the practice of law and I can pass this knowledge on to others.”
  • The program “allowed me to have greater reflections on my own legal career-the good, the bad, the ugly.”
  • “Seeing the practice of law through the eager and fresh eyes of a new lawyer renewed my perspective.”
  • The program “helped refresh my understanding of some of the issues I do not deal with regularly.”
  • “A new lawyer’s enthusiasm reminded me how exciting the work can be.”

What New Lawyers Say About the Program…

Upon completion of a mentoring program in a nearby state, lawyers said the following about their experience in a mentorship program:

  • “I had the opportunity to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Where else can you get that as a new lawyer?”
  • “My mentor was excellent and helped me to know what is ‘good’ practice rather than just acceptable practice.”
  • “I was able to meet an expert in my field of practice, learn about his methods, and have an additional resource to turn to.”
  • “I was assigned an amazing mentor who introduced me to the local legal community, opened doors for me and helped me to have the confidence to open my solo practice.”
  • “My mentor and I often discussed how to advance an argument or case without maligning opposing counsel or being offensive to the court.”
  • “It helps enormously to have someone whose judgment you trust to use as a sounding board when you’re venturing into uncharted waters.”
  • “My mentor was courteous, accommodating, knowledgeable and enjoyable.”

Proposed Rule 24-110 NMRA (as of 2/16/11)…