THE GOOD MENTEE
|Published in the October 18, 2011, Advisor
Many students are paired with an attorney-mentor through the Career Center. Other students secure mentors through their own networking efforts.
No matter how you establish a mentoring relationship, you should be thoughtful about managing it. Remember that it is a professional relationship. You don’t need to become close friends with your mentor; just talking with your mentor can help provide perspective on law school and focus for your career goals.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop a mentoring relationship.
Understand the relationship. Your mentor’s role is to guide, advise, and introduce. It is not to give you a job.
Prepare. Have an idea of what you may want to ask your mentor. Create goals for the relationship. These goals are just a starting point; they will change as you learn more about the profession and your mentor.
Be persistent. Your mentor is a busy attorney who may not be able to respond immediately. A polite follow-up to your initial email or phone call will remind your mentor to find the time to meet with you.
Listen. This relationship provides an opportunity for you to learn from a more experienced attorney about law and life. Be ready to hear what your mentor has to say and open to new ideas.
Share. Your mentor will want to know about you and your interests. Be prepared to talk about yourself, what you are looking for in the mentor relationship, and what you hope to accomplish in your career.
Network. Ask your mentor for the names of other attorneys to contact. Your mentor will likely be happy to refer you to other attorneys. Those attorneys, while not necessarily mentors, can provide you with other perspectives on a particular practice area or career path.
Be considerate. Respond to communications in a timely manner. Show up on time. Offer to pay for coffee. Send a thank-you note after you meet. The legal community is small, and good impressions go a long way.
Be flexible. To take full advantage of this opportunity, let the relationship evolve. Tell your mentor as your interests and goals change. If you want exposure to different opportunities or practice areas, speak up.
Be honest. If your relationship isn’t going to work, let your mentor know. If you don’t have time to develop the mentoring relationship, send a polite note explaining that you aren’t able to take advantage of the opportunity. Your mentor is busy; it is inconsiderate to ignore his or her attempts to contact you.