5 Reasons Why Young Lawyers Should Have a Mentor

Nov 13, 2018 by

Young lawyers just starting out in the legal industry may have a look of book knowledge, but most will have limited experience in the field. The focus of young lawyers is often on advancing their career, but often their plan is not realistic or well-rounded.This is where the role of a mentor can be extremely beneficial.

Historically, young professionals were trained and guided by a “master”. Today, most of our masters are internet sources, rather than a real person with real experience. This is unfortunate, because the relationship between a mentor and mentoree (or a master and apprentice) is incredibly beneficial. Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why young lawyers should have a mentor.

1. Benefit of Experience

Young lawyers just starting out will only have limited experience managing cases on their own. They will most likely have even less experience sorting through the various legal complexities that cases often present. Mentors, on the other hand, have already experienced the many ups and downs of working with clients, managing cases, and navigating the legal system. Mentors can offer wisdom and guidance that helps young lawyers make wise choices and be prepared to manage the needs of their clients.

2. Guidance with Career Choices

Young lawyers who are just finishing law school, or who are just starting their work in the field can benefit from the guidance of a mentor when making career choices. Mentors help young lawyers choose course tracks, decide on the best clinics to take, and can help them narrow down how they want to focus their practice (family law,personal injury, etc.). Over time, mentors can also provide valuable contacts and resources in the legal industry, which could open career pathways for their mentoree.

3. Practical Wisdom

Often times, mentors act as a voice of reason – an objective counterpart who can offer practical wisdom. In the stress and flurry of law school and all its responsibilities, the practical wisdom of a mentor can be valuable in keeping young lawyers on track. By working with a mentor, young lawyers have a sounding board, and someone they can trust to offer sound advice. Rather than turning to the internet or unreliable sources, the mentoree can trust the mentor because their relationship is built on knowing one another, trust, and honesty. 

4. Crisis Management

Mentors can also be a valuable resource during times of professional or ethical crisis. Ethical dilemmas are not uncommon, and young lawyers may not know how to properly diffuse situations and find resolution. A mentor serves as a confidential source, where young lawyers can express their concerns, address the situation, and get advice about how to handle ethical or professional dilemmas.

5. Long-Term Benefits for Mentor and Mentoree

Establishing a strong and healthy mentor-mentoree relationship takes time. As this relationship is built,there may be benefits for both parties. Consider the following:

Benefits for the Mentor:

  • Keeps the mentor fresh and up-to-date
  • Sense of accomplishment as mentoree meets goals and successes
  • Generates opportunities that could benefit mentoree in the future
  • Generates potential for long-term working relationship with the mentoree

Benefits for the Mentoree:

  • Teaches the mentoree to be an active learner and listener
  • Encourages self-promotion
  • Helps mentoree stay passionate and on target for goals and objectives
  • Generates long-term working relationships with mentor and associates
  • Helps mentoree become a successful lawyer in his or her field

 A benefit for both the mentor and the mentoree is the fact that the relationship, and often friendship, that develops can continue to grow over time. Many mentorees go on to work as interns or associates for their mentors.

Tips for Finding the Right Mentor

If you are a young lawyer looking for a mentor, here are some tips to consider as you search:

  • Look inside your immediate network of colleagues, friends, and peers
  • Your school may have a career resource department that helps partner students with mentors
  • Ask your employer if he or she has any advice for finding a mentor
  • Check out local associations and professional organizations to see if there are any partnership programs
  • Conferences are a great way to network and meet other lawyers in your practice area
  • Contact your local bar association and speak with someone in the APA Young Lawyers Division about mentor pairing

As you look for a mentor, remember to be yourself, ask questions, and be open to the possibilities that such a relationship can bring for you personally and professionally.

This article was submitted by The Dixon Firm, PC, a personal injury firm in Atlanta, Georgia. who assists those wrongly injured by others. As seasoned attorneys, The Dixon Firm is committed to helping the next wave of legal professionals reach their goals.

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