Making the Most Out of Mentoring

by Ireneo A. Reus III

CYLA members can take ownership of their careers from the start by finding reliable mentors. The following are tips on how to find a mentor and how to make the most of your mentoring relationship.

One of the best ways to find a mentor is by utilizing and becoming active in your local, state, and national bar associations. These organizations provide a host of networking opportunities with experienced practitioners from virtually every area of law who are willing to provide guidance to young lawyers. Mentors inside bar associations can introduce you to other members and help you learn about and take advantage of all the organizations have to offer.

Young lawyers who have a difficult time finding a mentor can seek out organizations that offer "formal" mentoring programs. In these programs, mentors and mentees are paired according to the mentee's goals and interests. Formal mentoring programs may also offer training sessions for the mentor and mentee on how to make the relationship as productive as possible. For example, CYLA has partnered up with the State Bar of California's Business Law Section to provide a formal mentoring program for CYLA members interested practicing business law.

You can also find formal mentoring programs through the ABA's Young Lawyers Division (YLD)
Mentorship Project web site. The Mentoring Project is an online collection of resources designed for mentors, mentees, and organizations.

Before starting a mentoring relationship, young lawyers should identify what skills and strengths they would like to develop from the relationship. For example, you may want guidance on specific practice areas, work-life balance, communication skills, networking, or job transitioning.

Once you find a mentor, discuss how much time you and your mentor will commit and whether you will correspond via e-mail, an occasional telephone call, or regular, in-person meetings. Respect your mentor's time and be receptive to his or her feedback and coaching.

Hear more tips and success stories as told from the perspectives of the mentor and mentee through the StoryCorps® audio recordings on the
YLD Mentorship Project web site. See Mentor Programs for another State Bar of California resource on mentoring programs in the state of California.