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Judicial Mentor Program

The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court announces the formation of a joint Judicial Mentor Program with the Ventura County and Santa Barbara County Superior Courts, in collaboration with the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

The purpose of this program is to assist in the recruitment and development of a qualified, inclusive and diverse judicial applicant pool. The program is designed to identify, encourage, and provide mentors for all attorneys considering a judicial career. One of the chief goals is to communicate to all sectors of the legal community the uniform message of Governor Newsom’s judicial criteria and commitment to appointing a capable bench reflective of California’s rich diversity.

Launch Date:

The Tri-Counties Judicial Mentor Program opened with a virtual conference held September 21, 2021. The conference was hosted by the Chairs of the Judicial Mentor Program for the Tri-Counties: the Honorable Manuel Covarrubias (Ventura); the Honorable Gustavo Lavayen (Santa Barbara); and the Honorable Rita Federman (San Luis Obispo); and joined by Judicial Appointments Secretary Luis Céspedes.

About the Program

The Judicial Mentor Program is a two-part program consisting of a one-on-one mentor committee and a community outreach committee.

Mentor Committee

Many judges have devoted time to the important work of mentoring persons interested in applying to the bench and this program will encourage them to continue and expand their efforts. The Presiding Judges of the Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo County Superior Courts have identified a panel of mentor judges who will be available to assist attorneys seeking guidance in applying to the bench.

The role of the mentor judges is not to select or recommend candidates; rather their role is to provide information and feedback and to demystify the application and vetting process. Participation in the mentor program is not a guarantee of appointment.

Outreach Committee

The Outreach Committee will work with all sectors of the legal community, including bar associations, public interest organizations, government attorneys, private law firms and solo practitioners. The goals of this outreach effort are to:

  • Inform members of the legal community of the program;

  • Disseminate consistent information regarding the Governor’s judicial criteria; and

  • Identify and encourage individuals in a position to assist in recruiting possible candidates for the bench.


Judicial Mentorship Program Application Form

Interested individuals may apply below. Participants will be paired with a mentor judge who will discuss the prospective applicant’s career objectives, answer questions regarding the application and vetting process, and be available to provide input as the candidate completes the application.

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Judicial Mentor Program FAQs

The Judicial Branch and the Governor’s Office have a shared goal of expanding the pool of qualified judicial applicants from diverse legal backgrounds and diverse communities.  The program is designed to encourage prospective applicants to complete the application process by placing them in direct contact with a judge who can answer their questions about the process and the work of a judge.

The program is open to all attorneys who have ten or more years experience as a lawyer in California, and who are in good standing with the California State Bar. 

Interested attorneys can apply to participate in the mentor program by completing a brief form posted on the Court’s website.

A court staff member will forward the application to the Chair of the San Luis Obispo County Judicial Mentor Program.  The Program Chair will pair the applicant with a mentor judge.  The current Program Chair is the Honorable Rita Federman.

Pairings will be based on common areas of legal practice and other factors.  Efforts will be made to eliminate potential conflicts of interest.  The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court participates in a tri-county mentor program with the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Superior Courts.  This will allow us to refer mentees to judicial officers in another county when a cross assignment may be beneficial.

No.  The program is a permanent program and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

The mentor judges commit to spend a minimum of four hours with each mentee, either by telephone, videoconference, or in person.  The mentor and mentee will decide the best way to communicate.  The mentor judge may work with the mentee for up to one year, although they may mutually agree to extend the commitment.

The mentor program focuses on the application process, so once the mentee submits an application to the Governor’s Office, the role of the mentor judge is satisfied.

The mentor relationship is confidential.  The information you share with the mentor judge will not be shared with others without your consent.  The mentor judge will obtain your consent before responding to inquiries from the Governor’s Office, the JNE Commission, or other organizations.

No.  The role of the mentor is to give you input on your application and answer questions.  The mentor does not vet your application or pass judgment on your qualifications.  Mentees receive no preference in the process, and there is no guarantee of appointment.

You are encouraged to fill out the brief form application on the Court's website.  The Program Chair will contact you to discuss the program and answer your questions before assigning you to a mentor. 

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