Web Conferencing as a Mentoring Tool
Article Date: Friday, November 04, 2011
Written By: Joyce Brafford
Law Practice Management is a large and ever changing field. Just ask anyone who has the responsibility of organizing and maintaining a law office. One area where this change is felt most acutely is the rapid development of technology. All modern law offices rely heavily on computers, the Internet, and a wide variety of software packages. From file management, to client communication, to financial record keeping, an understanding of technology is essential. This maxim remains true even in the area of mentoring, an area that has long been ignored in terms of technological developments. Most of us think of mentoring as a face-to-face interaction, where the two parties are situated in the same room. However, the advent of web conferencing has changed the way mentoring can be accomplished.
Over the past decade, web conferencing has gone from a clunky consortium of computer programs to sleek, intuitive applications that can connect nearly anyone in the world within seconds. Webinars, web conferences, and webcasts are common communication tools for most of us. Through the development of high speed Internet and lightning fast processors, speaking with someone on the other side of the globe is a quick and easy practice.
In this modern age, web conferencing is a problem solving tool. From Murphy to Manteo, new lawyers are ready to connect with a mentor, but many are in areas where there are not enough experienced attorneys who have the time or resources to help. Even in metropolitan areas, finding enough mentors for hundreds of newly admitted lawyers can be challenging. However, the NCBA Mentorship Program is working to ensure that all mentees have access to great mentors, and web conferences are part of how we're making it happen.
For example, in a somewhat remote corner of the state, a newly admitted attorney needed guidance. She reached out to the Mentorship Program for help. Although there was not a registered mentor in her area, we were able to connect the mentee with an experienced attorney. The mentor lives and practices about four hours from the mentee, making regular face-to-face meetings impractical. The distance between the mentor and mentee, just a few years earlier, would have made this pairing impossible. However, with web conferencing programs like Skype™, connecting the two is simple, convenient, and free.
With just a few clicks of a mouse, the mentor and mentee have begun a relationship that will help the new lawyer as she advances in her career. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, the mentee can avoid common early career pitfalls and learn the subtle nuances of the profession. Although not in the same region, the mentor can provide the kind of tutelage to which every young lawyer should have access. The concept of mentoring is ancient, but this mentoring relationship has taken on a modern form that is keeping pace with the technological advances shaping the profession of law.
Mentoring via webcam is one of many ways web conferences can be used in a tech-savvy law firm. From conferencing with your partners, to staff meetings, to client communication, web-based meetings may be the solution to your time and travel concerns. While Skype™ is certainly the most common video-chat program, there are many other programs including GoToMeeting™, FaceTime™, WebEX™, and ooVoo™. In addition to making it easier to hold meetings, Skype™ can be used to manage your social media presence by syncing your account to your other media such as Twitter™ and Facebook™.
As technology continues to develop, the tech-savvy firm must also continue to rethink the way they approach communication in both form and style. For information about new programs and tools for use in law practice management, including communication tools, please visit cmp.ncbar.org. • Joyce Brafford is the Assistant Director of the Center for Practice Management at the NC Bar Association. Contact Joyce with to enroll in the NCBA Mentorship Program, email email@example.com or 919-657-1566.
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