Goal IX Newsletter

Summer 2000, Volume 6, Number 3

Establishing an Effective Mentoring Relationship by: Susani N.H. Dixon

An effective mentoring relationship should include:

  • Regular meetings to discuss the protégé’s career goals and interests; discussions should also address creation and implementation of a viable “road map” for the protégé’s professional development and progress in the firm or corporation.

  • Regular conversations between protégé and mentor to ensure that the protégé receives quality, chargeable legal work sufficient to satisfy her annual billable-hour expectancy, whether from the mentor or from other lawyers who have staffing responsibilities.

  • The mentor’s conducting a regular review of the protégé’s monthly hours to ensure that the pace and mix of his workload are appropriate and consistent with the employer’s expectations for that lawyer.

  • The mentor’s having a willingness to “walk through” projects with the protégé, if requested, to reinforce her understanding of the project and to discuss how she intends to proceed.

  • The mentor’s actively encouraging other lawyers to give the protégé timely, informative, constructive, and candid feedback about the quality of his work and other relevant issues. .The mentor’s keeping in touch with other assigning lawyers to identify recurring or serious problem areas in the protégé’s work product or approach.

  • The mentor’s assisting the protégé in seeking means and resources for addressing problems. The protégé has a significant responsibility to initiate and pursue solutions.

  • The mentor’s assisting the protégé in developing a positive high profile, internally and externally, by such means as: introducing him to clients, and encouraging other partners to do the same with their clients; introducing him to other lawyers in the firm, including lawyers in the firm’s other offices; ensuring that the protégé works with a wide variety of partners in different offices (if appropriate) and in a variety of substantive areas consistent with his professional objectives; taking the lawyer along to trade association and bar association meetings and introducing him to the other members; and encouraging the protégé to participate in departmental and practice group presentations, to write timely and publishable articles, participate in business development efforts, and to participate in worthwhile community activities.

  • The mentor’s inviting the lawyer along to client meetings, depositions, court appearances, and similar opportunities, and then discussing the event with the protégé so that she learns from the experience.

  • The mentor’s sharing insights into firm culture and personalities with the protégé and making every effort to share “survival techniques” and to acclimate the lawyer to the work environment as quickly as possible. .The mentor’s letting others know when the protégé has done work or other things worthy of recognition.

  • The mentor’s occasionally inquiring into whether the protégé is receiving the administrative and technical support needed. .Both parties maintaining confidentiality of information disclosed in the course of the relationship.

— Susani N.H. Dixon

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