Tricia DeLeon is a commercial litigation and bankruptcy partner at Gruber Elrod Johansen Hail Shank LLP in Dallas, Texas.

I’ve worked with Tricia for over 7 years and always applauded her efforts to mentor young lawyers.

She was recently recognized by the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers as the 2016 “Mentor of the Year.” Tricia has written many guest posts here, so when she received the award,  I asked her to share why young lawyers respond well to her style of mentoring.

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How to be a Holistic Mentor

Have you ever played that word association game where someone says a word and you say what immediately comes to mind? When I hear the word “mentor,”

I immediately think of a person, rather than a word–Justice James A. Baker, a former Texas Supreme Court justice. I was privileged to be one of his briefing attorneys from 1999-2000. He was one of the most influential mentors I ever had. He taught me that an effective supervisor cares about your development as an entire person.

For example, he treated his chambers staff like family. We regularly shared meals with him and his equally-gracious wife. He supported my crazy idea to run my first marathon while working at the Court. He showed me how to serve my community. He constantly smiled, made you laugh and encouraged everyone he encountered. Although my legal skills flourished because of his teaching, I think I learned more about how I wanted to live my life.

Now, 17 years later, I still try to honor Justice Baker’s legacy by being a holistic mentor. I humbly accepted the DAYL “Mentor of the Year” award on April 29, 2016. I admire, respect and am inspired by the talented lawyers who nominated me. Here are a few examples of what they said mattered to them most in our mentoring relationship:

Be committed. Calendar time on at least a monthly basis to meet for an hour over a meal or coffee, outside of the office. You may already receive regular “windshield time” while driving together to client events, the airport or the courthouse. This time doesn’t count if you are only talking about work. Share what is going on in your life outside of work and invite the mentee to do the same.

Be a team. Look for ways to incorporate your mentee into client development activities. Invite her to join you at a non-profit luncheon. Lead a bar committee together. Co-author an article and tag-team at a speaking engagement.

Serve together. Take on a pro bono case together. This is my favorite way to work with young lawyers who may not specialize in the same area of law. If you do not work at the same firm, serve in your community together.

Exercise. Almost every Friday afternoon, I send an e-mail out to dozens of friends, many of whom are young lawyers. I invite them to join me for a Saturday morning run, yoga or just breakfast. If you are going to be successful in business, you also need to value mental and physical fitness.

Set goals together. Cordell Parvin taught me how to draft a business plan with measurable goals to hold myself accountable. I ask all mentees to do the same. Mine incorporates holistic goals for these categories:

  • Faith,
  • Family,
  • Firm,
  • Fitness,
  • Finances,
  • Friends and
  • Fun.

Instill confidence. None of us comes out of the womb knowing how to practice law. It’s challenging. Take time to encourage your mentees. Praise their strengths, especially to other lawyers and clients. It’s not always about you.

Tricia, congratulations on an honor well deserved. The lawyers you have mentored will remember you through the rest of their careers. You have made a difference in their lives.