JW Way Fundamental #20: Be a Mentor “Help others. Take responsibility to coach, help, guide, teach, and mentor others. Contributing to the success of others enhances your own success and well-being, as well as our firm.”
The History of Mentoring at Jaburg & Wilk
We saw the benefit of a mentoring program at the firm. Many of us worked as sole practitioners or at small firms and didn’t have the luxury of any formal mentoring. We can look back on our careers and realize that we sought out mentors, and in very informal ways created our own mentors. What we realized, as a firm, was that while informal mentoring worked for us, we had a unique opportunity, because of knowledge of our attorneys, to create a more formal mentoring structure for our staff and lawyers. As a result, we connected with a professional mentoring company to guide us to use mentoring as a tool for creating a strong, stable, and connected firm.
Takeaways from Our Efforts to Create a Sound Mentoring Program
First, the mentoring relationship is highly personal and trusting. Both the mentor and mentee must “buy into the relationship.” There must be an openness and willingness to discuss issues and feelings with the understanding that such discussions are confidential.
There must be structure. We have discussed “SMART” goals. To be successful, the parties to this relationship must have attainable goals that are measurable. The number of goals is critical because too many goals likely will be unobtainable and too few goals, not motivating.
It is best to separate the mentee from the person who provides them work. The purpose of the mentor is not to provide proficiency in the area of practice or micromanage, but to provide the mentee with a resource to become a better lawyer, person, and to provide a confidential resource to discuss sensitive issues the mentee may have.
Finally, it is a two-way street. It requires commitment and availability. At our firm, that includes the commitment of the mentee to set up and assure that meetings are regularly scheduled, and the commitment of the mentor to provide the time and availability to meet.
Mentoring Post Covid
Now more than ever mentoring is essential to the success of our firm. With the advent of remote and hybrid working, relationships are more difficult to maintain. There is a loss of connectivity. We need to spend time investing in reconnection. Solely in my opinion, I believe this is best done in person. While the ability to work remotely has its benefits, connecting is harder and requires a commitment. Mentoring is clearly an opportunity to set us apart, nurture our lawyers, and invest in relationships with our employees. It will make us better people and a stronger firm.