Founded in 2013, the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP) brings the benefit of professional mentoring to newly admitted Colorado lawyers. Through attorney mentoring, CAMP promotes professional pride, the pursuit of excellence in service to clients, the value of diversity and inclusiveness, and the strong relationship between the bars, courts, law schools and the public through the teaching of the core principles and ideals of the legal profession.
In the three years since the Colorado Supreme Court developed the CAMP program, we have cultivated more than 350 mentors across 29 co-sponsored programs in bar associations, law firms, Inns of Court and government law offices across the state. We’ve matched hundreds of new lawyers with senior mentors who have assisted their mentees in finding employment, obtaining leadership positions in the legal community and hanging their own shingles.
The person leading this initiative since 2013 has been John Baker. A former litigator and past president of the Denver Bar Association, he has been a steadfast visionary and trailblazer, making CAMP a national model for attorney mentoring. CAMP has been privileged to grow under the auspices of his leadership.
When John retires at the end of June, CAMP will undergo its first major transition since the program’s inception. I have the privilege of succeeding John and becoming CAMP’s second director. Prior to joining CAMP, I was a family law litigator and non-profit legal department director. I served as president of the Colorado LGBT Bar Association and have held board positions with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness, Colorado Lawyer’s Committee and Colorado Bar Association Board of Trustees. I am honored to lead CAMP into the next generation of attorney mentoring and to share with you my plans for expanding the program to serve more of Colorado’s 26,000 active attorneys.
As a diverse attorney, I have personally experienced the immense benefit of mentorship and sponsorship throughout my legal career. I also understand that diverse attorneys need mentors and sponsors who appreciate the unique challenges unconscious and affinity bias bring to career advancement for this population. During my tenure, I plan to develop specialized mentoring tracks for diverse attorneys, which will include training for mentors on relevant topics impacting minority attorneys and support for diverse mentees seeking community and resources from other diverse attorneys and their allies.
“Work-Life Integration” is more than just a buzz phrase to me. As a wife and mother, personal wellness and professional balance is vital. Colorado has several resources available to attorneys seeking improved mental and physical health. CAMP is uniquely positioned to harness these resources and collaborate with these entities to create an attorney wellness clearinghouse. Mentoring and attorney wellness go hand in hand, and it is my goal to increase the focus on wellness in each individual mentoring pair through the creation of an annual attorney wellness week and inclusion of the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program (COLAP) in our template mentoring plans.
In its first three years of operation, the CAMP program has made one very important observation: Mentoring is not just for new attorneys! The program is currently in the process of developing specialized mentoring options for lawyers in transition. Whether new to Colorado, new to a practice area, new to private or solo practice, new to social media technology or new to practicing law as a parent, CAMP understands the need for mentoring across age, experience and generational boundaries. We will continue to pilot and develop programming for lawyers who are experiencing transition and seeking mentorship as they embark on the next stage of their legal career.
To date, 29 bar associations, law firms, Inns of Court, government law offices and other legal organizations have built their own co-sponsored CAMP mentoring programs. Formal mentoring programs exist in 17 of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts. Plans to expand programming on the Eastern Plains and in Southern Colorado are an important priority in the coming years. While our partnership with local bar associations in these areas will be imperative, my broader goal is to reach every corner of Colorado through increased law firm participation.
Many law firms are unaware that CAMP can assist in creating formal in-house mentor or sponsorship programs for firms of all shapes and sizes. I intend to increase awareness of CAMP’s skills and resources in developing these formal programs to assist law firms seeking to move from informal or unsuccessful internal mentoring programs to thriving programs with measurable results in improved recruitment and reduced attrition for new and diverse attorneys.
This is an exciting time for CAMP, and I look forward to working with you or your organization to take advantage of all that CAMP has to offer. We are proud of our co-sponsored program with the Denver Bar Association, and I encourage you to become involved with the excellent programming offered by the DBA for mentors and mentees engaged with this program.
Please visit our website at coloradomentoring.org for more information or to apply to become a mentor, mentee or cosponsored program. D
J. Ryann Peyton serves as the director of the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program (CAMP). Prior to joining CAMP, she focused her practice on civil litigation with an emphasis on LGBT families and civil rights. Peyton earned her law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law and holds an L.L.M. and undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.