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Bridge the Gap Mentorship Program


new lawyers

What Specific Steps Do I Take?

  1. Complete the Bridge the Gap Application Form, which allows you to sign up to start BTG, defer or exempt out of the Program. The Application/Deferment/Exemption Form is due thirty days after swearing-in.
  2. Complete the pre-program mentorship survey.
  3. Watch the orientation video and certify completion.
  4. Select a mentor from the pre-approved list. If you want a lawyer from your firm or organization who is not on the list to mentor you, call us at 797-6003 or 797-6049 and we’ll tell you how to make that happen.
  5. Call your mentor to introduce yourself.
  6. Meet with your mentor and select the subjects you would like to learn about.  These subjects are in the Mentoring Curriculum Plan.
  7. Once you select your subjects, send us your Mentoring Plan Agreement/Curriculum so we know what you and your mentor will be working on.
  8. Make fee payment or arrange payment schedule (also on application form.)
  9. Work with your mentor over the next twelve months and get your CLE credits for the year.

Program Materials

Program Forms

Pre-Approved Mentor List New Lawyer Application
Includes Deferment, Exemption and Fee Payment
New Lawyer Handbook Mentor-New Lawyer Request Form
Who Does What Certificate of Online Completion of Orientation
Program Evaluations:  Pre and Post Individual Mentorship Curriculum Plan
Timeline:  What is Due When  
Video Orientation  
Curriculum Resources  

FAQs

How Do I Know if I’m Eligible for a Deferment or Exemption from Bridge the Gap?

Read the New Lawyer Application carefully. The application has four parts and lists what situations qualify for a deferment or exemption from the program.

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Why Do I Have to Pay for the BTG Program?

There are administrative and materials costs associated with the program. We worked hard to keep costs down because new attorneys often are paying student loans. The $300 fee for the BTG Program is less than you would pay for a year of CLE credit and by participating in the BTG program, you receive a year of CLE credit for the year you complete the program. You can pay the fee in installments that are convenient for you. (Payment options are delineated on the application). There are a limited number of scholarships available each year which are first come first serve. If your organization pays for your CLE credits, they may pay for the BTG program.

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Is The BTG Fee Part of My Bar Dues?

No, they are two separate fees.

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Why Is The BTG Program Mandatory?

Several disturbing facts came from an ABA study about the practice of law. New lawyers reported they are less satisfied with the practice of law and are leaving the practice, especially minority lawyers. More experienced lawyers reported a marked lack of civility and professionalism in the practice of law. BTG was designed to address both of these concerns. The New Mexico Supreme Court mandated the BTG program in April of 2011. New Mexico is one of six states to have a mentorship program in place for new attorneys. Several other states are exploriing or developing similar programs.

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How Are The Mentors Selected?

Mentors must meet five requirements to apply and are then screened by a committee of attorneys, judges and law students. Once vetted by the Committee, the Supreme Court approves the lawyer as a mentor. If there’s a lawyer you think would make a good mentor, here’s the mentor application form.

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What If I Don't Like My Mentor Or My Mentor Gets Sick?

New lawyers can switch mentors once with no questions, but if a second switch is necessary, the new lawyer would be asked to speak with BTG administration. Contact Program Coordinator Elizabeth Aikin at 797-6049 to switch or confirm a change in mentors.

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How Much Time Does The BTG Program Take?

You and your mentor have 12 months to complete the program after you are sworn in. If you are sworn in during the spring or fall, you must complete the BTG program by Dec 31 of the year following your swearing in, or your first full year in practice.

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What Do I Study With My Mentor?

You study a flexible, but very thorough curriculum, which is arranged by quarter.

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What Is the Mentoring Plan Agreement And Why Is It Required?

The mentoring plan agreement consists of two parts: the mentorship curriculum plan and the agreement form. This is your agreement with us as to what you and your mentor will study together. We need this agreement for MCLE requirements and for our records.

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How Can I Give the Supreme Court And The State Bar Feedback?

We ask new lawyers to give us feedback before, during and after the BTG Program.

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What Do I Do When My Mentor And I Are Finished With The Curriculum?

You and your mentor go online to take the final feedback survey, you pay your final fee, your mentor completes the Certificate of Completion, and sends it to us. We award you and your mentor CLE credits.

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Do I Get Continuing Legal Education Credit For This Program?

Yes, you and your mentor get 12 CLE credits (including Ethics/Professionalism) for participating in the program. You get the credits in the year that you finish the BTG program.

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How Do I Attend The Required Program Orientation?

You can attend an orientation in person twice a year at the State Bar of New Mexico or you can view the orientation online. Since this orientation is mandatory, please make sure to fill out the completion certification online and return it to use if you select the online orientation.

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Where Do I Find A Mentor?

Follow this link to access the Pre-approved Mentor List

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Can A Lawyer At My My Firm Mentor Me?

Yes, they can-but three things must be in place: The lawyer must apply to be a mentor and be approved; the lawyer must use the BTG curriculum plan and the BTG materials, and the lawyer must not be your direct supervisor. Why?  Often, new lawyers want to talk with their mentor about the boss.

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When Does The BTG Program Have To Be Finished?

BTG has to be finished at the end of the first full year after you are sworn in. For example, if you are sworn in on April 2012 or September 2012, you must complete BTG at the end of the NEXT year or 2013.

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Where Is The Rule Making This Program Mandatory?

New Mexico Rules Annotated 24-110

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What About Confidentiality And Conflict Of Interest?

  1. An outside mentoring relationship exists when the mentoring lawyer and new lawyer are not employed by the same law firm or agency. The mentoring lawyer is presumed not to have a lawyer-client relationship with the new lawyer’s client and the new lawyer’s client is not an intended beneficiary of the outside mentoring relationship between the mentoring lawyer and the new lawyer. When allowed by Rule 16-101 NMRA, the mentoring lawyer may provide or the new lawyer may seek short-term limited guidance or counsel, within an outside mentoring relationship, without expectation by either lawyer or the new lawyer’s clients that a lawyer-client relationship has been formed by the mentoring lawyer with the new lawyer’s clients or that representation is being provided in the matter to the new lawyer’s clients by the mentoring lawyer.
  2. Where practical the new lawyer and the mentoring lawyer shall discuss the new lawyer's client-specific issues in hypothetical terms within an outside mentoring relationship. Regardless of whether issues are discussed in hypothetical terms, the outside mentoring lawyer shall run a conflict check and shall treat all client information discussed with the new lawyer as confidential under Rules 16-106 to 16-112 NMRA. Although the outside mentoring lawyer is presumed not to have a lawyer-client relationship with the new lawyer’s client, the outside mentoring lawyer is presumed to be a representative of the new lawyer employed to assist the new lawyer in the rendition of professional legal services under Subparagraph (3) of Paragraph A of Rule 11-503 NMRA.
  3. Subparagraphs (1) and (2) of this paragraph do not apply to lawyers who are outside mentors providing, or new lawyers seeking, counsel or guidance on an ongoing or regular basis relating to the needs of or litigation regarding a specific client, whether within or without the context of the mentoring relationship. If the lawyers are engaged in ongoing or regular guidance or counsel related to a specific client or clients such that a lawyer-client relationship exists between the new lawyer’s client and the mentoring lawyer, then the new lawyer and the mentoring lawyer must comply with the relevant New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct. [Adopted by Supreme Court Order No. 11-8300-024, effective for all lawyers admitted to practice law in New Mexico after April 6, 2011.]

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I Like To Read. Is There A Program Handbook For New Lawyers?

Follow this link to access the New Lawyer Handbook

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What Do I Do At The First Meeting With My Mentor?

Follow our recommendations in this document. You will both need to select what you would like to study from the Curriculum Plan.  Then you must sign the plan and send a copy to us, along with the mentoring agreement so we know what you are working on.

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Where Do I Go For Help?

Call Jill Anne at 505-797-6003 or Elizabeth Aikin at 505-797-6049 or email bridgethegap@nmbar.org

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How Do I Comply With The Requirements Of This Mandatory Program?

As a new attorney, legal work presents quite a few mandatory requirements that you must meet.  Welcome to the practice of law!

Here are eight BTG requirements you must meet:

  1. Fill out the program application. The application will guide you through: 1) giving us your contact information, 2) determining if you are exempt or deferred from the Program, and 3) paying the fee for the program.(link) Once you complete the application form and submit it to us, we can determine if you required to participate in the program and help connect you with a mentor.

Program Evaluations:  Pre and Post

  1. Complete the pre-survey about your attorney skills. This takes only five minutes.
  2. Attend or watch the BTG Orientation. Around the time you get sworn in, new lawyers and mentors will be invited to a BTG orientation and lunch. You can meet potential mentors and other new lawyers and you’ll get fed! Or view the orientation online. Don’t forget to submit the certification that says you viewed the orientation.
  3. Once you have an approved mentor, you need to contact that person for a first meeting. At that first meeting, complete the Mentoring Curriculum Plan. Make a copy of the plan for yourself, a copy for your mentor and send a copy to us. YOU WILL NOT BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROGRAM UNLESS WE RECEIVE YOUR SIGNED CURRICULUM PLAN. It’s like taking an Independent Study-we have to know what you and your mentor plan to do for the remainder of the year!
  4. There is a $300 fee for the BTG Program. This goes for administration and materials. There are several options for payment, which are delineated on the application.
  5. Fill out a survey when you have been working with your mentor for six months. We’ll send you a reminder.
  6. Finish the program by Dec 1 of the first full year you are in the program. Your mentor needs to complete a Program Completion Certificate. Thank your mentor.
  7. Take a final feedback survey for the Supreme Court. We’ll send you a reminder.

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What Is Due When?

For New Lawyers Admitted to the New Mexico Bar  in Spring Swearing-In Ceremony:

On or Before

Deferment/Exemption Request

No later than 30 days following your swear-in

Take online pre survey

Immediately if you are not exempt from the Program

Complete and submit the Bridge the Gap Application

Within thirty (30) days from swearing-in ceremony

Deadline for mentors to submit applications to volunteer to be a mentor  (If you are nominating someone who hasn’t already been approved as a Mentor for this program, this is important.)

A mentor may apply anytime, but if he/she would like to mentor a particular new attorney, application should be received within (30) days of new attorney’s admittance.

Selecting or being assigned a mentor

Anytime after Spring admittance but no later than (60) days after admittance.

Mentoring Curriculum Plans due for approval by BTG Administrator

Anytime after pairing, but no later than August 1 of that year. 

Fee deferment or Financial Assistance request

As soon as possible

Payment of  $150, half Administrative fee

Due by March 1 of the year the program is completed.

Mentoring Term Begins

Once mentoring plan is approved by BTG Administrator.

Mentoring Term Ends

Twelve months from the beginning of the mentoring term, but no later than December 31 of that year.

Take online post survey

Immediately upon completion of the Program

Certificate of Satisfactory Completion due

Anytime after completion of program, but no later than December 31

Payment of  $150, Second half Administrative Program fee

Due by December 31 of the year the program is completed.

For New Lawyers Admitted to the New Mexico Bar in Fall Swearing-In Ceremony:

On or Before

Deferment/Exemption request due

Immediately

Take online pre survey

Immediately if you are not exempt from the Program

Complete and submit the Bridge the Gap Application

Within thirty (30) days from swearing-in ceremony

Deadline for mentors to submit applications to volunteer to be a mentor  (If you are nominating someone who hasn’t already been approved as a Mentor for this program, this is important.)

A mentor may apply anytime, but if he/she would like to mentor a particular new attorney, application must be received within thirty (30) days of new attorney’s admittance

Selecting or being assigned a mentor

Anytime after Fall admittance, but not later than sixty (60) days after admittance.

Mentoring Curriculum Plans due for approval by BTG Administrator

Anytime after pairing, but no later than December 31 of that year.

Fee deferment of Financial Assistance request

As soon as possible

Payment of  $150, half Administrative Program fee

Due by March 1 of the year the program is completed.

Mentoring Term Begins

Once mentoring plan is approved by BTG Administrator

Mentoring Term Ends

Twelve months from the beginning of the mentoring term, but no later than December 31 of that year.

Take online post survey

Immediately upon completion of the Program

Certificate of Satisfactory Completion due

Anytime after completion of program, but no later than January 15 of the next year.

Payment of  $150, Second half Administrative Program fee

Due by December 31 of the year the program is completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bridge the Gap Mentoring Program Requirements

Check off when completed

What

Mentor

New Lawyer

 

Apply to become a mentor and be approved (if you want to mentor someone in particular, the deadline to submit your application is November 10 of the year the attorney was sworn in)

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Enroll in BTG Program

 

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Attend BTG Training Orientation (in person or on the internet)

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Select and contact mentor

 

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Submit signed mentoring plan agreement forms (mail or on-line)

 

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Mentoring Plan is approved by BTG Program Administrator

 

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Pay $150 by March 1 of the program completion year

 

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Keep track of all due dates and program requirements

 

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Complete all activities selected in the mentoring plan, including a required discussion about substance abuse and mental health issues

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Ensure program topics are covered

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Have at least seven (7) in person meetings over the term of twelve (12) months for a minimum of twelve (12) hours.

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Contact the BTG Program Administrator if any problems arise

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Submit Certificate of Satisfactory Completion

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Pay $150 by December 31 of the program completion year

 

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