Mentoring is an effective way to empower others and a great tool for expert development that every company should utilize and every single professional should consider and employ in his or her own career. Mentors provide advice and guide mentees to develop solutions to career challenges, by using their unique experience in the field and a fresh perspective into issues being experienced. The relationship is not one-sided by any means; just as receiving guidance benefits mentees, they also play an important role by providing mentors with a unique insight of their own abilities, a different perspective of the industry and an opportunity to acquire new skills.
The obvious advantages of being part of a mentoring program are no secret among successful attorneys, as they will tell you that very few things are as effective as having a great mentor, to drive forward your legal career. Having a person that is currently at the top of their field, take a personal and professional interest in your own development is something invaluable and must not be underestimated.
Mentoring in the legal profession is something that started from the very dawn of law itself. Way before training in academia, new lawyers were schooled in apprenticeships by more experienced representatives of the profession and thus they pretty much learned on the job as they went. As schooling became more formal and universities created programs focused on teaching pupils how to become lawyers, so did the mentorships evolved and transformed into organized and efficient programs that are considered just as important as they actual learning itself. Lawyers all read the same books and go through the same training, so how is it that some of them are much more successful than others? A great deal of credit must be given to mentoring relationships and the proper use of these partnerships, as they are not just helpful to candidates going through law school but also to interns and new lawyers who are just getting started at a firm.
Good mentoring relationships must begin as early as possible in the law career and their influence is of great importance for the development of the mentee and the further growth of the mentor. A good mentor can help their mentee focus their efforts in the branch of law that best suits their ability and give amazing insight based on their experience in the profession. In order to be successful, you must tailor your education and early career choices in such way to maximize efforts by aligning them with your interests and innate skills. This does not mean that mentoring is solely focused to the times before lawyers start to practice; the truth is farther from that as great mentoring relationships endure and become even more beneficial once the mentee has acquired some real world experience as well.
As the relationship goes both ways, we can also assert that mentors have a great deal to get out of their mentoring efforts. Benefits go beyond the obvious personal satisfaction of helping others in their profession to get ahead and succeed; they also introduce rising young talent into their professional network and strengthen their own reputation of great leadership and managerial skills. Great teachers are often so because they are able to learn from their students and from the way they themselves deal with issues brought forth by their protégées. Junior lawyers bring and a new set of skills to the table and a fresh view upon old practices. Sometimes that renewed perspective is enough to consider an untested approach to business and a new application of a ruling that was not considered by more experienced members of the firm.
Mentoring relationships are diverse and they can be dictated mostly by the workplace and their own practices when it comes to mentorship. A lot of firms today are responding to the demands of the industry to create their own in-house programs to pair new members of their team with experienced partners thus creating working teams with many applications. These types of programs are a great way to strengthen the firm, to attract new talent and retain those who are part of the team, as members see these spaces as opportunities to advance both personally and professionally. However, in-house mentoring programs are not the only alternative present to those interested in finding a mentor but working at a place that doesn’t have mentorship opportunities readily available. The possibility to contact experienced attorneys for inquire about the possibility of mentorship opportunity is an option worth considering, as well as continuing a relationship with a former professor or a faculty representative that was present and whom which they may have an existing professional partnership that may continue to flourish.
For more great articles in mentoring and what a great opportunity these programs can be, check out our publications at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog today.