Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mentoring Works.... In its Own Way

One of the presentations at the LMA annual conference discussed mentoring as a means of helping lawyers develop their individual practice. In the presentation the CMO stated the assigned mentoring program, though carefully planned, didn't work all that well because the mentorees didn't reach out to the senior attorneys assigned to them. It was interesting that the CMO doing the talking did state the attorneys did use mentors... just not the ones that had been "assigned" to them.

Then there is this brief article by Gerry Riskin on female mentoring. Gerry compliments the use of mentoring as a career building tool and challenges law firms to embrace it beyond a fad or fashion.

Here are my thoughts on making mentoring a viable tool for your firm:
  • The mentoring relationship IS a relationship. It requires a chemistry between two individuals not found in a spread sheet or personality profile. Not every senior attorney in your firm will be selected as one, and not every person that needs one can find it within your firm.
  • Selecting a mentor should be in the hands of the person wanting a mentor. Only they can pick the person they will listen to and honor what is advised.
  • Treat mentoring as a therapeutic relationship where progress is not measured in numbers but in personal growth. A mentor helps someone mature in their profession and it is the maturing process that produces the result.
  • Never ask for the details of what happens between a mentor and mentoree. That MUST remain private.
  • To enable the mentoring process schedule roundtables of mentors to discuss best practices, and schedule roundtables of mentorees to discuss what they are learning.
Mentoring has always been a mostly informal process that works best if it remains as such. Don't try to put walls around it. Instead, look for ways to enable it even though it must remain an uncontrollable tool of success.
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