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MCLE Self-Assessment Test

Online mentorship for new lawyers that’s available 24/7

By Laura Ernde
Staff Writer

Recognizing that many young lawyers need support and education as they establish themselves in the profession, the California Young Lawyers Association set out to help.

Robert Hawley
Robert Hawley

They needed a way to reach more than 50,000 members scattered throughout a large and diverse state, so they turned to a platform many of them were already using – YouTube. Soon, the 10 Minute Mentor video series was born.

“The videos kind of bring it to life. We’re such a social media type culture,” said Emily Aldrich, chair of the board of CYLA, which is made up of California attorneys who are age 37 and younger or in the first five years of practice.

With the help of the staff of the State Bar’s Office of Education, CYLA identified practitioners to share advice regarding their area of expertise. The program was modeled after similar efforts by the state bars of Texas and Colorado.

To keep costs low, the first 17 videos were shot on location in 2014 at the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Diego, where the speakers were already gathered to present CLE programs. The series includes instructional videos on things such as how to select clients, conduct a better deposition and master the art of trial presentation.

In one segment, Acting Executive Director Robert Hawley gives an overview of client trust accounting, which is one area where a slip-up could land an attorney in disciplinary trouble. For more detailed information, he refers people to the free resources on ethics pages of the State Bar’s website.

Attorneys can’t get CLE credit for watching the videos, although some presentations are linked to longer paid programs that are eligible for CLE credit.

Attorney-mediator Mari J. Frank recorded a segment on the ethics of negotiating. She said her goal was to impress upon young lawyers the importance of learning the art of negotiation since it comes into play in almost everything a lawyer does.

“People who aren’t taught think it’s about positioning and lying and bullying the other side,” she said. “That’s not good negotiation.”

Creating mentorship opportunities has been a focus for State Bar President Craig Holden. Earlier this year, he appointed a Mentoring Task Force to explore the creation of a statewide mentoring program as an extension of the bar’s public protection mission.

“We need to train lawyers to become better lawyers so they can better serve their clients and the public,” Holden told the task force members. “This really is an opportunity to pay it forward.”

Meanwhile, CYLA is working to expand its catalog to cover more topics. Attorneys who would like to submit possible topics for the series can send an email to staff coordinator Laila Bartlett,

In addition to filming more videos, CYLA is also trying out a “speed mentoring” networking event at its upcoming Practical Skills Training Symposium. The event gives attendees an opportunity to meet the presenters at the end of the day-long workshops (scheduled for May 21 in San Francisco and May 22 in Los Angeles).