WBAI Relaunches Mentor-Mentee Program

On Friday, November 6, 2020, the WBAI was delighted to resurrect its Mentor-Mentee Program with a live kick-off virtual event, which was very well attended. The Mentor-Mentee Committee is thrilled that we were able to bring this beneficial program back to WBAI members, new, current and prospective.

The WBAI Mentorship program is an initiative that pairs experienced practicing attorneys with newer attorneys, with the goal of each supporting each other as they navigate these sometimes-choppy waters of the practice of law. The program offers two options of participation, one with a CLE component that aligns with the Illinois 2Civility program or another non-CLE option, which has less stringent standards and which focuses more on issues that affect women attorneys. The Committee was thrilled at the interest from prospective mentees and were equally humbled and grateful to the large number of attorneys who stepped up and expressed their willingness to act as a mentor and give of their time and experience. We currently have over 60 participants in this year’s program.

The program runs from October to May and Mentors and Mentees are expected to meet at least once per month and currently, virtual meetings are encouraged and permitted. We are hoping the participants will have the opportunity to establish and build new relationships, develop career objectives to meet goals, strategize regarding business development plans, discuss techniques for balancing career and personal commitments, and much more!

Most traditional workplace mentoring relationships involve senior employees helping to guide the person and professional growth of more junior colleagues. But age and organizational hierarchy are not necessarily the most important factors in today’s increasingly multigenerational workforce. Putting together this program, the Committee recognized that it was really important that mentors and mentees have an experience and a relationship that can be mutually beneficial. We recognized that mentors may very well learn a lot from their younger mentees and strived as best we could to pair mentors and mentees in similar areas of law so that the relationship could be the most meaningful.

As a new Immigrant to the US and then a newly qualified attorney, I wish that I had the benefit of a mentor to make my transition into this career path back then, a little easier. To say my early career as a newly qualified attorney was a baptism of fire would be an understatement. I was regularly terrified and felt that I had no idea what I was doing. I second-guessed most of my decisions and then agonized for hours, after having finally made a decision, as to whether or not it was the right one. I felt unsupported and invisible and it was quite a lonely and isolating time. By joining the WBAI and other organizations, I quickly realized that I could have a treasure trove of support at my feet if I simply reached out and asked for it. Having been a WBAI member now for over ten years, I can safely say that I am a more confident and able attorney now with a large list of fellow attorneys who I regularly reach out to for support, guidance and above all else friendship. The support, friendship, advice, and access to resources that fellow WBAI members have shared with me has been amazing and has truly humbled me. We as a Committee are very proud of the WBAI Mentorship program and are looking forward to seeing what comes of this year and to the birth and growth of many new fulfilling connections and relationships.

If you have any questions regarding this program, please reach out to one of the Mentorship Committee Co-Chairs; Tiffany D. Gehrke, Lauren Witkowski, Caroleann Gallagher, or Stephanie Cueman.

About the Author
Caroleann S. Gallagher is a Partner at Dwyer & Coogan and specializes her practice in all areas of personal injury to include medical malpractice, nursing home litigation, transportation injuries, premises liability, and workers compensation. She is a longstanding WBAI Member and Co-Chair of the Mentor-Mentee Program, Legally Mom’s, and the Annual Judicial Reception.