They say not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and a good mentor, typically, is doing just that: gifting her time and energy towards helping a younger attorney progress in her personal and professional life.
But, like tube socks on Christmas morning, not all mentors are a hit.
For all the lawyer mentors out there (and for those who agreed to be a mentor but kinda forgot about it until just now), here are five signs you should probably step up your game:
1. You Don't Even Know Your Mentee's Last Name.
In fact, you don't know your mentee at all as a person. But Jane isn't just some young whippersnapper who comes to lunch once a month to be wowed by your tales of success.
It's not mentoring if it's a one-way conversation. Take an interest in your mentee, her career, her personal life, and more.
2. You Don't Know Where Your Mentee Works or Went to School.
Maybe you met at a legal networking event like a local bar mixer, or through an alumni association, and maybe you have lunch from time to time. But how can you really help if you don't know anything about your mentee's professional and academic background, or what her goals are?
Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.
3. You've Never Even Had Lunch With Your Mentee.
Really, at this point, are you even a mentor? If you're not meeting with your mentee regularly, over lunch, dinner, or drinks, how can you actually help? You may be able to toss along a few nuggets of wisdom over email, but that's not exactly mentoring.
4. You Don't Know Your Mentee's Strengths or Weaknesses.
It's all about personal and professional development, which is often lacking at law firms. As a mentor, you need to have some insight into your mentee's strengths and weaknesses in order to help her improve on the latter, and to maximize her chances of having a successful career.
5. You Can't Be Reached or Found.
You can't help if you can't be reached. Don't ignore your mentee's phone calls, don't put off replying to your her email messages, and try to be available as much as you can. It's even worse if you're a "ghost" around your own office -- if you've checked out of your professional career, how are you going to help a younger attorney launch hers?
How to Step It Up
Alright, this is getting a bit repetitive, so let's sum up what you should be doing:
- Know your mentee's personal and professional life and how they impact her goals;
- Meet with your mentee regularly, and do more than brag about your success (put your listening ears on);
- Find ways to help your mentee shore up her weaknesses and develop as a professional.
Have any suggestions that we missed? Care to share some of your secrets to success as a lawyer mentor? Tweet us @FindLawLP.
- New Lawyers Need Mentors: 3 Ways to Find One (FindLaw's Strategist)
- How to Find a Mentor: 6 Steps to Finding a Professional Mentor (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Fake It 'Til You Make It: Networking for Introverts (FindLaw's Strategist)