Well, sadly it happened. Something I ate did not agree with me and I was up all Tuesday night. I did not have my A game for our four hours of class Wednesday. and I slept most of the afternoon. Thankfully, I feel better this morning.

How are my classes going? I enjoy them, but I still struggle to remember words when I am under pressure in a conversation. I’ll have to work on that when I get back home.

On Wednesday I was asked what was in my room.  I wanted to include mi maleta (my suitcase). I have no idea what I said, but it wasn’t maleta.

Let’s get to business. Are you a young lawyer looking for a mentor? In my book “Prepare to Win” I wrote a chapter titled: “The Importance of Role Models and Mentoring.”

I have written extensively on mentoring because I feel I owe a great deal to the mentors I had in my career beginning with my father. I also enjoy helping young lawyers.

Give me the Young Lawyer

I frequently receive email questions about mentoring from lawyers and professional development professionals. Here is an example of an email with questions about mentoring:

“Cordell, I recently thought about your article where a partner mentored you early in your career and how this partner met with you early in the morning to teach you about the practice of law. What advice do you offer to today’s young attorneys about forging similar relationships?

How can a young attorney turn a grumpy old partner, who is only concerned about his billable hours, into a mentor?”

Those are great questions. My first thought was:

“Gosh, I hope none of the associates who worked for me thought I as a grumpy old partner.”

My second thought was that the older the partner, the more likely he or she will be to take the time to listen and provide advice. The greater challenge is getting a grumpy young partner to take time away from billable hours.

I am not sure a young attorney can ever turn a partner who is only concerned about billable hours, into a mentor. Here are my suggestions for young lawyers:

  • Find the right partner. Lawyers in your firm who are good mentors are likely well known throughout the firm.
  • Find the right time to spend time with the mentor. As explained above, I met with my first mentor (we never used that term) the first thing in the morning over coffee. I learned early on that he spent some time early getting ready for his day and he was open to meeting with me then.
  • Convey that you want to learn and become the best attorney you can be. Experienced lawyers admire young lawyers striving to learn and be the best they can be.
  • Ask good questions. Experienced lawyers generally like to tell younger lawyers about their experiences. When I met with the young partner who took me under his wing, I frequently began the discussion with: “Have you ever…?”
  • Actively listen to your mentor.
  • After the mentor offers his or her ideas, don’t say: “Yes, but…” or “My problem is…” Any time a lawyer said that to me, I decided he really wasn’t seeking my help. Instead he just wanted to complain.
  • Come up with your own action plans after a mentoring session.
  • Pass it on. Find a new lawyer in your firm and offer to be his or her mentor.

Speaking of mentoring, you may know I wrote an e-book you can download here: Strategy for Your Career and Your Life. In it I discuss my own strategy and strategies used by other lawyers. I also include a workbook for you to use to develop your own strategy. If you think the book is helpful pass the link on to your friends and colleagues.

  • Great article, Cordell. It’s such a false economy to stint on mentoring. Training pays for itself many times over, and once you’ve trained a junior lawyer you have someone to help you do your work. Lawyers tend to hate juniors asking questions, regarding it as a waste of their time. In fact they should be encouraging them to ask MORE (but better) questions because it will accelerate the learning.