by Cory Hohnbaum
When our two boys were not yet school age, I would get on my high horse (where my wife and friends say I spend plenty of time) and declare that we would not overschedule our boys with activities. Only one activity at a time, I used to say, with most days after school left to their own devices, playing with neighborhood kids - mirroring my own upbringing. I would share this view with parents of children older than ours and most would simply give me a knowing smile and say "we’ll see."
Well of course I was wrong. Wrong to have any arrogance around anything relating to raising children. If bringing up children does anything, it makes you humble. Wrong to think that times are the same now as when I was growing up. Having younger kids roaming the neighborhood these days is not usually recommended and could get you, at least in some places, in trouble with the police (See Montgomery County, Maryland). And, of course, wrong not to fully anticipate my boys would be sports nuts who love playing all sports and enjoy the camaraderie of doing so with their friends.
Perspective is sometimes hard-earned but can also be gained by having good mentors. I was fortunate growing up that my friend’s dad was a lawyer who helped foster my interest in the profession. Having then joined a firm with excellent lawyers and fine people, I had the advantage of daily watching how law should be practiced. Those same lawyers gladly took me under their wings and gave me valuable perspective.
Our Bar has long recognized the value of mentoring and while that goes on informally every day in our legal community, the Bar has several formal mentoring programs. One such program is Lunch with a Lawyer. Through a partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, lawyers serve as mentors to eighth graders throughout the school year. Mentors meet with their paired mentee at least once a month for lunch, serving as a positive role model and providing the student with a window into the legal profession. Participating students, who are recommended by their principals and represent a broad range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, have expressed an interest in pursuing a legal career. Lunch with a Lawyer can always use more volunteers. If you are interested, please contact Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator Amina DeBurst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great program of the Bar is the Linking Lawyers program. Since 2010, Linking Lawyers has been a flexible avenue through which a range of attorneys network, provide and receive guidance on issues of professional conduct and career advice and gain insight into diverse areas of the law. For young lawyers seeking valuable perspective, this is a wonderful way to learn from more experienced lawyers. If you are interested in this program, please contact Legal Services & Referral Assistant Coordinator Breanne Mercer at email@example.com.
Finally, the Bar is proud of its APEX Mentoring program. This initiative has a formal mentoring curriculum designed to advance minority mid-level associates within law firms and corporate legal departments who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg General Counsel and Managing Partners Diversity Initiative. The program matches eligible associates from member firms with experienced in-house counsel. To volunteer or learn more information, please contact Amina DeBurst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a lot to learn from each other. I hope you will consider being part of one or more of these excellent programs.