Mentor Project

If you ask an experienced lawyer about how he or she learned to be a professional, the conversation will soon turn to lessons that the lawyer learned from a mentor. There likely will be no mention of a lecture in law school or indeed of any other abstract teaching. The lessons that become part of us come from those who lead, guide and inspire us in those crucial formative years.

The tradition of older lawyers mentoring younger ones is still alive, but it is endangered. Economic pressures are affecting the ability of experienced lawyers to hire new lawyers at all, much less to spend the un-billable time it takes to mentor them. High turnover among younger lawyers makes older lawyers less willing to invest in mentoring. One sign of this trend is that some states, led by Georgia, have made mentoring mandatory for new lawyers. Such programs seek to preserve the tradition, but the fact that we need to mandate mentoring is not a good sign.

We want to do what we can to preserve this great tradition. We need to find a way to be mindful of the importance of the role of mentors in the lives of young lawyers, to encourage experienced lawyers to fill this role, and to reinforce with new lawyers and law students the importance of finding the right kind of mentor. This is where the Mentor Project of the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism comes in.

We are asking lawyers simply to share with us their stories about the mentors who helped them along the way, and we are asking their permission to post or link those stories on this web site. We hope that this exercise will do some good. The lawyers who reflect on their own experience will remember what a gift it was and will be reminded to be grateful.  We hope that this reflection and sense of gratitude will inspire those lawyers, and lawyers who read the stories, to keep the tradition alive. We also hope that the stories will reassure law students and young lawyers that the tradition is alive and well, that the profession awaits them with an extended hand of welcome and guidance.

We anticipate that most of the submissions will be in writing, but we encourage other formats as well. If, for example, you wish to submit a video or audio recording about, or even with, your mentor, we would welcome that.

Please share your experiences with us by sending them to Professor Longan at With your permission, some or all of your messages will be posted to or linked from this web site. Every happy lawyer has a narrative about those who helped along the way. We want to share those stories.

If you have any questions about this project or any other project of the Mercer Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism, please call Professor Longan at (478) 301-2639.