A young associate recently asked me how to get the most from a mentor. As I write in my book “Prepare to Win,” most lawyers my age owe a great deal of our success to mentors we have had throughout our career. When we were young lawyers we never used the term “mentor,” but we received mentoring advice every day.
If you are a young lawyer, you will likely achieve more and be more satisfied with your career if you work with a mentor, or several mentors. The first step is to find the right person. If you are in a firm, you can easily determine which senior lawyers in the firm most enjoy helping young lawyers. Your mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be in your firm. She could be a lawyer you met at a Bar meeting. Many Bar Associations, including the Dallas Bar Association have mentoring programs for young lawyers.
Once you establish the relationship, the best way to get the most from the mentoring relationship is to convey to your mentor that you want to become the best lawyer you can be and you are open to his coaching. Some of the best mentoring relationships are informal with little structure. A Senior lawyer will be more inclined to help you when he knows you are taking responsibility for your career. You can demonstrate that by knowing what you want to achieve, developing a plan with goals and taking steps to execute what you have in your plan. Share your plan with your mentor and ask for feedback.
In a few weeks I will be speaking to first year lawyers on Starting Right for Career Success. Next week I will be blogging with ideas for new lawyers. If you are a first year lawyer, I hope you will take time to read the blog posts next week, look at the slides for my presentation and read my book Prepare to Win.