Chapter Spotlight: ACC Colorado
ACC Docket interviews Amy Klempt,
corporate attorney, COBank, ACB, and
Dennis Kaw, general counsel, Appliance
Factory, about their experiences on the
ACC Colorado Board of Directors, as
well as their involvement in the chapter’s
recently created mentorship program.
How did you get started with the
Colorado Chapter? What do you like
most about being in-house counsel?
Klempt: I joined the planning committee for the chapter’s new Emerging
Leaders Group in 2014. At the time,
I had been in-house counsel for less
than two years and was looking for
ways to become more involved in
ACC and the Denver in-house community. The Mentoring Program was
one of the first initiatives of the ELG,
and helped to form a core group of
new-to-in-house lawyers to attend the
ELG events. I organized the Mentoring
Program in 2014 and in 2015. One
of the mentees from 2015, Jessica
Borchers, took over in 2016 and continued to build the program.
How did you recognize a need for
a mentoring program within your
chapter? How did you get it started?
Klempt: The idea originated with our
board member, Dennis Kaw, who start-
ed the ELG group and
was identifying programs
and events geared towards
Our local bar association
had, and continues to have, a suc-
cessful mentoring program for new
lawyers, but it is primarily composed
of lawyers in private practice. Dennis
recognized a specific need for new in-
house lawyers to build connections and
have opportunities for career develop-
ment. Initially, for the first year of the
program, we matched new-to-in-house
lawyer “mentees” with chief legal officer
“mentors.” The mentors and mentees
were asked to meet at least one time for
lunch or coffee during the year and we
held a reception for all participants. The
response was positive, but few long-
term mentoring relationships seemed
to develop between the participants.
In 2015, for the second year of the
program, we completely changed the
structure to group mentoring.
Kaw: Having been involved in various traditional mentoring programs,
Amy and I recognized that such a
program would not work for our
ACC members because of the tremendous time commitment involved.
Accordingly, we looked for ways to
make the mentor-mentee relationship more organic — all while making the time commitment for both
sides as minimal as possible. First, we
told mentors that their commitment
was only to meet the mentee once to
determine whether or not to continue
the relationship. We then we put the
onus on the mentees to cultivate that
relationship. This empowered the mentors to determine their commitment,
and the mentees to make the relationship work.
In 2015, we recognized we could
achieve the same organic relationship
building between potential mentors
and mentees by having group mentoring sessions at which three to four
CLOs discussed professional development topics with a group of 15 to
20 mentees. Amy created the group
sessions, and again put the onus on the
mentees to find a match and cultivate a
What is the process for the program?
Klempt: Three to four mentoring
events are held throughout the year in
order to build relationships within the
group. At each event, a topic is chosen
and three to four CLOs or senior in-house lawyers speak to the group about
their personal experiences with the
issue. In 2016, we began splitting the
group into smaller discussion circles.
By doing this, mentees ask more questions and dive deeper into an area
of interest with one of the mentors.
Mentors speak at a single event and
perhaps respond to follow-up requests
and questions from mentees on an individual basis thereafter. Alternatively,
the mentees are able to meet and ask
questions in a comfortable atmosphere.
How do you ensure the program’s
benefit and legacy after you are
no longer on the chapter board?
Klempt: a board member has always
overseen The Mentoring Program but a
non-member ELG committee member
has always managed the program. At
the end of the year, the current leader
of the program has transitioned management to a past mentee participant.
Do you have any advice for
chapters that are interested in
starting a mentorship program?
Klempt: The group mentoring
structure has been significantly more
successful for our chapter than a
one-to-one matching of mentors and
mentees. I would highly recommend
looking into a group or circle mentoring structure. The mentoring program
has continued to draw an increased
number of new-to-in-house attorneys
to ACC Colorado events.
Kaw: Don’t market it as a traditional
mentoring program. ACC