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Mentors for in-house counsel may be especially important, as an in-house attorney is oftentimes the only attorney in the corporate office.
But without someone to bounce ideas off of or to get some direction, an in-house attorney may be going in the wrong direction and have no idea until it is too late, reports Corporate Counsel.
So if an in-house attorney is the only attorney in the building, how does that attorney go about getting a mentor?
General counsel isolated in small companies or small towns are increasingly turning to the Internet to find mentors and like minds. Not every in-house attorney can work somewhere like Apple where there is a team of attorneys ready to guide and nurture you. Instead, most attorneys work alone at mid-sized companies and are expected to be the expert on all things legal.
For these attorneys, web-based professional networking communities have been a huge benefit. The online community as a whole can act as a mentor to an attorney, and a general counsel may receive advice from 20 different sources for a specific question, as opposed to just hearing one opinion from one mentor.
Through online in-house mentoring communities, isolated general counsel now have a lifeline to other in-house lawyers. And online mentors have been especially generous with their time and advice, reports Corporate Counsel.
While the benefits of having an in-house mentor should be obvious for less-experienced lawyers, it's also beneficial for the mentors. One mentor said her mentoring experience helped to improve her own skills, particularly active listening. The lawyer called it "good practice" as she listened to another attorney's problems and helped come up with a solution.
Listening and problem-solving are the same tasks an attorney will have to handle when talking to her own clients. And by hearing about issues at another company, a mentor can also learn new issues or potential pitfalls at her own job.