Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor.

Author:Suskauer, Michelle R.
Position:President's page

I recently had the privilege of spending time in Sarasota's legal community where I learned about the Booker High School Law Academy. Students in this enriching high school program are studying caselaw and precedent, preparing opening arguments, and participating in mock trials. Each student is paired with a mentor--a judge, or a retired or practicing attorney--from the Sarasota County Bar Association.

To have that mentoring relationship so early in life, when they would not otherwise have it, is very special. The Booker Law Academy generates interest in the law in these young adults, lets them develop literary and public speaking skills, and otherwise helps prepare them for the future. Their attorney mentors are invaluable in this process and their support will have a lasting, positive impact. Whether these students go on to work in the civil or criminal justice system in some facet--as lawyers, police officers, paralegals, probation officers, or clerks--or decide on another career path, they are now informed citizens and have developed excellent life skills.

As lawyers, many of us wouldn't have come far in our careers if it wasn't for a mentor. Mentors help new lawyers in various ways, whether it's in a substantive area of law, with practice-related questions, or on a personal matter. It is incredibly helpful to bounce ideas off of someone who has had the same experiences or just has a different perspective. When you're involved in a complex or time consuming issue, it helps to have someone who has a "30,000-foot view."

When I was a young assistant public defender, I was mentored by my aunt, Sherry Hyman; Justice Barbara Pariente; and my husband, Scott, who was already a public defender and experienced trial attorney when we met. They gave me tremendous guidance and support. I was lucky to have them in my life and would not be where I am today without them.

Unfortunately, many...

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