Career

The Lawyer’s Guide to Finding a Mentor

By Jeremy Bloom and Carol Kanarek
Mentoring pair

Mentoring pair

CAROL KANAREK is a lawyer and clinical social worker. She has provided career management services to lawyers and legal employers, and law schools for over twenty five years. She can be reached at ckanarek@aol.com or (212) 371-0967. More information about Carol’s background and services can be found at www.KanarekandBrady.com.

JEREMY BLOOM is the Assistant Dean for Career Planning at the University of Michigan Law School. He has legal experience in a variety of practice settings, and can be reached at jerbloom@gmail.com.

Both Carol and Jeremy are graduates of the University of Michigan Law School.

Mentoring as a means of enhancing lawyers job satisfaction and performance is an exceedingly important topic. The reality is that finding the right mentor(s) is easier said than done–and the wrong mentor can be worse than no mentor at all. Here’s some advice.

First, give serious thought to what it is that you are seeking to learn from a mentor. At various stages in your tenure at a particular firm or company, and during the course of your legal career as a whole, you may need someone who can serve as a teacher, role model, coach, troubleshooter, guide, protector, confidante, sponsor, publicist, and/or career counselor. A potential mentor may be perfect for one purpose, but not for another. For example, a lawyer who supervises your work may be an ideal mentor with respect to general legal skills, work habits, time management and client relationships. However, he or she probably is not the right person to give you unbiased long-term career advice. Many successful lawyers have created for themselves the equivalent of a “board of directors”–each with his or her own area of expertise–to whom they turn for advice with respect to various issues of professional development.

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