The e-mentoring project

Christopher Esbrook is a litigation associate in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He serves as Illinois chair of the Young Lawyers Committee of the 7th Circuit Bar Association. He is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois College of Law. He took some time to answer a few of our questions about an e-mentoring project.

The 7th Circuit Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Committee unveiled its e-mentoring project during the association’s 59th Annual Meeting in Chicago. The e-mentoring project shares the collective wisdom of the 7th Circuit’s distinguished jurists, lawyers and other professionals, through short video segments about specific areas of the law or legal practice. The video clips are available to members of the 7th Circuit Bar Association. Sample videos are available to the public at

1. What is the importance of this project?
The Young Lawyers Committee of the 7th Circuit Bar Association recognized that mentoring is a particularly important part of the legal profession.  We wanted to expand the concept of mentoring so that experienced lawyers and judges could share their wisdom and advice with a wide audience in the circuit, not just the people fortunate enough to be around them.  In addition to the mentoring function, this project serves as a time capsule of legal thought from the leading lights of the circuit — an oral history for future generations of lawyers and historians.  Imagine if we had video of past luminaries of our circuit (e.g., President Lincoln, etc.) giving practical advice.  We expect the videos to serve that function for future generations.

2. What do you hope people understand about the project?
I hope people understand the practical applications of the e-mentoring project.  For example, as you prepare to draft an appellate brief, you can listen to Judge Williams give direct advice about what makes an effective brief and the pitfalls to avoid.  Or, in preparation for a cross examination, you can hear trial stars like Bob Clifford and Mike Monico talk about how to prepare for a cross.

3. How did you get involved?
I got involved in the 7th Circuit Bar Association through past president Andy Langan, a Kirkland & Ellis partner.  I helped Andy plan the 2008 annual meeting, which is no small task.  While planning the meeting, I was introduced to Steve Molo, Beth Gaus and Seth Thomas who were just getting the e-mentoring project off the ground.  The first time I talked with them, I could immediately sense their excitement about the project and its potential and I wanted to be involved.  Beth Gaus from the Federal Defender’s office, the person that is primarily responsible for the success of this project, was kind enough to allow me to jump on board.

4. What is the next step in the project?
We will continue to conduct video-taped interviews with the prominent members of our circuit to increase our database of knowledge.

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