How to make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor?

It is well-known that mentors are important characters that help with the professional development of individuals. This is not an exception for law students who plan to one day become successful attorneys or start their own law firms. Mentors help to break that gap between experienced attorneys and the ones who just graduated from law school.

Mentorship needs to be a both-sided relationship between two individuals: the mentor and the mentee. Mentorship should be enriching and mutually beneficial. However, it is important to consider that all mentors needed to be mentees and that is why it is so important to find the right mentor. Depending on the type of mentor you have will be the type of mentor you will become.

In order for mentees to become great mentors, they need to receive great knowledge from their mentorship experience. Wisdom and useful advice are also important to set some standards and references for the future law mentor.

In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will review what is to be a law mentor and how do mentees take that step to become successful law mentors.

Related: How Mentors Inspire Their People Everyday

Being a mentee

As a mentee, your responsibility is to choose a mentor that can actually suit your needs. This is very important in law since you are only allowed to specialize in certain fields under that approval of a mentor. A mentor is not necessarily someone who sings in for the role. It can be anyone you are close to during the last years of law school or right after graduating from it.

Many mentors come in the shape of superiors who happen to work at the same place that you do. This is why it is very important for you to be surrounded by professionals that can give some key information and advice to your formation. This means that as a mentee you probably won’t have a boss who is constantly lecturing. But, a figure who is always willing to answer questions and help you grow professionally.

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Sometimes, those who once were mentees and now are mentors look back at the history and realize that some of their best mentors were not formally described as such. They were individuals with whom they could hold an enriching professional relationship with.

Those who are about to become mentors after being mentees should always keep in mind the important pieces of advice they once received from their mentors. Being a law mentee is about having the opportunity to observe, meet, and building long-lasting relationships. This happens because in the future you will want to share your skills, knowledge, and connections with those you are mentoring.

Becoming a mentor

Having said that, how do you make the transition from being a mentee to becoming a mentor? There are different answers to this question.

First, as a law mentee, you will have many mentors along your career. This will mean that you will know many attorneys and they will know you back. Having a nice background is highly important to become a successful attorney.

In many cases, a former mentee who is now a successful attorney will become a mentor by simply helping those individuals who just got out of law school. This way, the person who used to be a mentee will start to give hints, advice and pass knowledge to a new generation of attorneys who are eager to learn. This mentor – mentee relationship won’t be formally established but will help the mentee take the right path.

Another way for a former mentee to become a mentor is thanks to the law-student decision. It has been said that mentorship is a both-sided relationship. This is how many law-students or recently graduated lawyers look out for the type of mentor they want to have. After this research takes places, they will approach to their potential mentor to start a mentorship relationship.

When both the mentor and the mentee feel comfortable and find common ground to grow a mutually beneficial relationship, the mentoring process starts. However, this is not yet a formal mentoring relationship. It is an agreement between two people on the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

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The last way in which a former mentee can become a law mentor is by actually growing as an attorney. This will mean that the attorney will have a determinant background in the law practice. Also, it will mean that it is a successful and knowledgeable figure. When this happens, usually a law association spots the former mentee and offers it to become a mentor.

There are some associations in the United States who are dedicated to helping law-students become experienced and well-rounded professionals. These associations look for mentor candidates based on the student’s needs and want.

Bottom line, there is not only one way in which a law mentee could become a mentor. It is a process in which knowledge is gradually gained. It is also a new step that needs to be taken in order to help the new generations of attorneys to come be successful.

Mentoring Relationships: a fruitful investment

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Almost every lawyer and roughly most law students are familiar with the good practice of mentoring, in which a student or an attorney gets together with a more senior lawyer who provides advice and keeps them from being led astray in the competitive race towards success. Mentoring programs can be found everywhere; they are widespread because they actually work: they help students, young attorneys, and further careers while bringing together networks and professionals.

As attorneys become more experienced and start gaining the necessary expertise in order for them to be a vital and crucial part in law firms, corporate offices, and other organizations, their needs also become more specialized and, to some extent, sophisticated. However, the fundamental need for direction and assistance in sailing rather complex atmospheres and environments within law corporations still remains; nonetheless, students, enthusiasts, attorneys and more senior attorneys can meet these needs by developing the aforementioned networks and relationships.

Suzzanne Uhland as previously talked about the importance of resorting to mentors from time to time; mentors are definitely people who can get to play a crucial role in people’s success as a professional. They build the pathways to connect the gaps between theory and reality of how the professional workplace operates. A mentor can also be an excellent partner; mentors can help others develop the skills they need so that they can thrive in their careers. An effective and fruitful mentoring relationship can serve as the bridge to access needed resources and people —key people—. Likewise, mentees can avoid mistakes and reduce the likelihood of falling victim of inexperience. Besides, they can save some time in their attempt to ascend to senior positions within law organizations.

Nevertheless, even though the benefits of resorting to a mentor have already been proven, and even though people have increasingly been looking for this type of relationships, yet many lawyers assert, or have asserted, that they either do not have a mentor or that they rarely resort to a mentor should they have questions.

Many attorneys, students, and law enthusiasts are completely disregarding the opportunity to take advantage of good mentors and productive mentoring relationships mostly because their expectations do not match their reality. Besides, they also let these opportunities go unnoticed because they have a totally biased, exaggerated connotation about the intrinsic role of a mentor —when the expectations are not met, they totally distort the entire concept. Such premise is what often leads to a fatal event commonly referred to as career suicide: almost every successful attorney could assert that his or her success could be accounted for by the presence of a fruitful and productive mentoring relationship. This is in fact particularly true for females in top positions of their professions who often face different junctures of isolation due to their, comparatively low, numbers.

There are other cases where a sheer array of professionals firmly believe that mentoring relationships and resorting to mentors for advice are not important; however, it is important to point out that this phenomenon obeys to a flawed preconception about the term “relationship”. It would be nonsensical and naive to actually believe that a mentor or a professional who seeks to help others through counseling is some sort of a fairy godparent. Mentors do not possess some sort of magic wand in order to provide mentees with their dream job or a successful career; nor can they interact with the mentee’s environment and get rid of all the challenges and the difficulties they have to face in the race for success. With that being said, a good mentor is rather like a good lecturer: he or she is able to provide valuable and crucial information, resources and, more importantly, a much deeper sense of perspective. Their job is not to provide mentees with all they need, but to teach them how to get it.

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Some lawyers also value the time factor. Allegedly, they do not have enough time for them to develop such relationship. They constantly complain about the lack of time in their lives, which is why they ignore additional commitments —or, like they say: distractions—. And even though this might indeed be, to some extent, true, what lies behind the incapability to make room in their schedule is rather a mistake in judgment and poor time management. Career success, unlike the common connotation, is all about working smarter and not harder nor longer. If the opportunity presents itself, take it. If there is a chance to develop a positive and productive mentoring relationship that may come in handy when sailing across the different nuances of the professional life, take it: do not let it go unnoticed.

Taking advantage of what a mentor has to offer is perhaps one of the greatest investments people can make for themselves.