In the months since the start of the pandemic, trials have been postponed, court operations halted, and in-person interaction has dropped to a minimum. For solo and small-firm attorneys, the times have been tough. For many, these months have been filled with a sense of loneliness, stress and frustration.
Legal support organizations such as the Colorado Lawyers Assistance Program, Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program and the Colorado Bar Association have adapted and provided support to those affected by the pandemic and its side effects.
“Legal mentoring looks different today than it did six months ago,” said Ryann Peyton, director of CAMP. Usually, mentoring is focused on achieving career objectives, developing professional identity or improving practice competency. “Today, however, there are so many other things to worry about that are more critical than resume building.”
The coronavirus has had positive and negative effects on the CAMP program, Peyton said. There was a sharp decrease in the number of new mentoring requests from March to May, at the peak of public health orders, and the legal community was building relationships virtually. During that time, CAMP focused on educating attorneys on best practices for virtual mentoring. CAMP has already offered virtual mentoring for several years and was able to quickly transition mentoring pairs to a fully virtual platform.
Mentoring requests have steadily increased since June as mentoring and professional development are being reprioritized, she said. The number of requests for group or “circle” mentoring opportunities has also grown. These group experiences provide community connections, professional development and relationships meaningful to the legal community — “especially when we cannot be together in person,” Peyton added.