The Attorney Mentoring Program is a district-wide mentoring program for new bankruptcy practitioners – both newly licensed attorneys and otherwise experienced attorneys new to the practice area – administered by the Bankruptcy Administrator for the Western District of North Carolina.
Through the institution of this mentoring program, the Bankruptcy Administrator hopes to elevate the proficiency, professionalism, and success of bankruptcy attorneys practicing in the Western District of North Carolina through positive mentoring relationships. Ideally, these mentoring relationships should:
- Assist in the development of the new bankruptcy attorney’s practical skills and increase his or her knowledge of legal customs and best practices;
- Improve legal ability and professional judgment; and
- Promote collegial relationships among legal professionals and involvement in the bankruptcy bar.
Mentors: Attorneys with at least 5 years of bankruptcy experience may participate as a mentor in the program by completing the Mentor Volunteer Registration Form. Any mentor wishing to discontinue his or her participation may notify the program coordinator by email.
Mentees: Attorneys with less experience practicing bankruptcy law seeking the assistance of a mentor may request that the Bankruptcy Administrator match him or her with a mentor by completing the Mentor Request Form.
Participation in the program is voluntary; no mentor is required to accept the assignment of a mentee. If an assignment is declined or the mentor pairing is otherwise unsuccessful, the Bankruptcy Administrator will match the newer practitioner with another mentor.
Mentees should take care to exercise their independent judgment and should not rely upon a mentor’s guidance as legal advice.
Upon pairing, a mentor and mentee should meet monthly over the next year and work to participate in at least 6 of the following activities or experiences, including repeating any of those that are of particular benefit to the mentee. Mentors and mentees should consider meeting for breakfast, lunch, or coffee. Mentors are also encouraged to keep an open dialogue over telephone or email as questions may arise for a new practitioner.
Topics and/or activities for monthly meetings could include:
- Review the Local Rules and Administrative Orders of note to new practitioners. Discuss any “unwritten” customary rules of civility or etiquette among attorneys or judges in the WDNC bankruptcy bar.
- Escort mentee on a tour of the federal courthouse and/or Bankruptcy Administrator office and introduce him/her to the judges, chambers, clerk’s office, Chapter 7 trustees, Chapter 13 trustees, and BA’s office.
- Review Rules of Professional Conduct and discuss scenarios commonly arising in bankruptcy practice.
- Discuss pro bono opportunities with organizations such as Legal Aid of North Carolina, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, and Pisgah Legal Services.
- Introduce mentee to other attorneys in the bankruptcy bar via attendance at a local brown bag luncheon, CLE seminar, or NCBA bankruptcy section meeting.
- Work through or review example Chapter 7 petitions, schedules, and statements of financial affairs; Chapter 13 petitions, schedules, statements of financial affairs, and Chapter 13 plans; and/or Chapter 11 petitions, schedules, statements of financial affairs, the Chapter 11 operating order, monthly status reports, Chapter 11 plans and disclosure statements.
- Review fee issues, including Rule 2016(b) disclosure, distinctions between base fee/non-base fee work in chapter 13 cases, time-keeping best practices, the Guidelines for Compensation and Expense Reimbursement of Professionals, and fee standards under section 330.
- Attend a 341 meeting and discuss best practices.
- Attend a motions calendar and discuss best practices.
- Attend a hearing in a contested matter/adversary proceeding involving witnesses and introduction of evidence.
- Attend a deposition/Rule 2004 examination of a witness/adverse party in a contested matter and/or adversary proceeding.
- Attend a mediation.
- Acclimate mentee to an experienced practice management model with office tour of mentor’s office, including client marketing, timekeeping practices, billing system, calendar or “tickler” methods, conflicts management, document retention plan, filing systems, trust account management, and staff management.
- Exchange example forms and/or review mentee drafts for client intake documents and engagement agreements; discuss terminating the attorney/client relationship.
- Exchange example mentor go-bys and/or review mentee drafts of various customary motions or adversary proceeding complaints.
- Discuss how to communicate with chambers and the clerk of court, how work is allocated between these offices, and the appropriate methods for such contacts.
- Invite mentee to civic, charitable, or service opportunity in the community.
- Other items of mutual interest to mentor and mentee.
Mentors and mentees successfully completing a year-long mentor relationship who submit a Certificate of Completion to the Bankruptcy Administrator will be recognized at the annual Western North Carolina Bankruptcy Seminar.