WLAM’s mentor program is informal. While we are happy to pair new attorneys and judges with experienced attorneys and judges who have expressed an interest in being a mentor, we encourage our members to reach out to other WLAM members who they believe would be good mentors. Many of our experienced WLAM members enjoy giving back by sharing their knowledge and learning experiences.
Some things to consider when looking for a mentor:
- Be clear why you want a mentor. Are you seeking specific practice area knowledge? Do you need assistance connecting with people who need an attorney within your area of specialty? Or are you looking for someone who’s been where you are (new and just starting out) that can provide you with general information to help you avoid common mistakes and provide sound advice?
- Make certain that you choose a mentor that fits your personality and communication style. What kind of mentor would best complement you? For example, you may choose someone who’s your opposite (e.g., an extrovert to your introvert), or you may select someone in whom you see in yourself (e.g., an introvert that has learned to be assertive with a strong presence during public speaking that could help you cultivate those same desired skills).
- Before asking someone to be a mentor, try asking that person for a specific piece of advice and evaluate how it went. Was it helpful? Did it make sense? Did it encourage you?
- When approaching someone to be your mentor, make certain you convey why you would like the person to be your mentor and what you hope to achieve from the relationship. It can be as simple as, “I am asking you because you have a knack for ensuring that all the parties walk away happy” or “I like the way you connect with people and how you build on those connections” or “I am asking you because you are the most successful person I know.”
- Your mentoring time can occur in many forms – it can occur via a monthly phone call, a periodic lunch or dinner, or ongoing email correspondence. It should be tailored to what works best for both you and your mentor.
- Remember to reciprocate to your mentor whenever you are able, and to show gratitude. Gratitude goes a long way and mentors love hearing how they helped you succeed!
Advocates (Mentors on Steroids)
In addition to having good mentors, it is also important to have strong advocates. Advocates are sometimes referred to as “mentors on steroids.” Rather than mentor you privately, advocates champion and promote you in a very public way that increases your visibility and potential for advancement.
Advocates are especially important for women and minorities who often are not sufficiently represented in key leadership roles. Having an advocate helps level the playing field and opens the door to new opportunities. Advocates show you the path to success and often walk ahead, promoting your arrival and making the necessary connections to help you land important projects. Advocates help you expand your network by introducing you to executives and other people in leadership positions with whom you may not otherwise get a chance to interact.
We will provide information periodically to our members regarding how to identify advocates and cultivate those relationships.