I was never a huge fan of firm mentoring programs. In the days after firms started cracking down on using mentoring funds for hookers and blow, mentoring became distinctly less exciting. For the male associates, it seemed to revolve around mass quantities of red meat and booze. For the female associates, it was a lot of talk about “feelings,” and “glass ceilings,” and figuring out how to get a manicure on the firm’s dime. And while pretty nails are always nice, it was just one more billable hour that I’d have to make up at night.

But perhaps creative mentoring isn’t dead after all. It seems as though the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association might be trying to bring some fun back to its mentorship program. The MHBA recently distributed fliers on the University of Minnesota Law School campus that bear images of some pretty questionable-looking foliage.

Was this just an innocent mistake, or are Minnesota Law students being offered a chance to expand their horizons in more ways than one? You be the judge, after the jump….

UPDATE (6:30 PM): We’ve added statements from a board member of the MHBA and from the president of the Latino Law Student Association at the University of Minnesota, also after the jump.

Here’s the flier in question:

Our tipster questioned the choice of greenery and was given this innocent explanation:

I was handed the enclosed flier in between classes. When I asked why there was the leaf of an illicit plant on the flier I was told it was a maple leaf…

A maple leaf? Hmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen thousands of maple leaves in my life, and I can’t say I’ve seen one that looks like this.

Here is a quick lesson in foliage for our dear friends at the MHBA. This is what maple leaves look like:

This, on the other hand, is what marijuana leaves look like:

Now which looks more like what is on your flier?

It’s hard to imagine how such a simple flier could go so wrong. When there’s only a single gratuitous image on an advertisement, it should be pretty easy to ensure that that one picture doesn’t resemble illicit drug imagery. I’m also positive that Minnesota has enough maple trees that anyone living there should have a good sense of what a maple leaf looks like.

Horrible picture choice aside, why do we need a leaf on the flier in the first place? Is a maple leaf supposed to entice Minnesota law students to join the mentoring program? Is the maple leaf so integral to the Minnesota mindset that its random placement in an advertisement will spur people to action? I thought Canada had pretty much monopolized the whole maple leaf thing. Even some clichéd legal symbolism would make more sense here.

Perhaps the “confusion” was intentional just to attract attention. Or maybe there really will be marijuana at the meeting. You’ll never know if you don’t apply. You have until Halloween to submit your application and find out just how fun the MHBA mentorship program will be. There’s still plenty of time to do that and figure out the perfect Halloween costume.

UPDATE (6:30 PM): Lat here. A board member of the MHBA provided us with the following statement:

The MHBA wants to make clear that although MHBA is in charge of the mentoring program, it did not create or approve the flier posted in the story. A student at the U. of Minnesota used the MHBA logo and created the flier on their own. We (the MHBA) didn’t know the flyer existed until the story was forwarded to us.

Sigh. Any brownies distributed at MHBA meetings are, well, probably just brownies.

UPDATE (10/24/11): We received the following message from the president of the Latino Law Student Association at the University of Minnesota:

I take full responsibility for this controversial flyer. A Japanese maple leaf appears on this fall-themed Office template, which we used for the flyer’s design:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/results.aspx?qu=Maple&ex=1&origin=CT010144589#ai:TC010360849|

It still doesn’t look like a maple leaf to us, but what do we know? We’ll defer to Microsoft.


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