How to find a professional mentor
A mentor can be an invaluable individual for a junior lawyer. Here’s how to find one and maintain that relationship.
What is a mentor?
Mentors are industry professionals who can guide and advise you on all matters related to the legal profession, ranging from career advice to personal development. A mentor is in the best position to give you first-hand guidance on progression, achieving your goals, and attaining a work-life balance.
Finding a mentor
Before finding a professional mentor, it’s important to know what kind of person you want to seek help from. Consider the type of firm you’re in, what you want to specialise in, what area interests you and other factors directly relevant to you.
Once you know this, the most basic way to search for a mentor is by networking and reaching out to people on LinkedIn. Tailor your profile to attract certain individuals, connect with them and message them personally. Sell yourself so they see your potential.
Make it clear from the outset that you wish to establish a formal, professional relationship. Asking them to meet up for a chat is a good first step.
Within your own workplace
Other than LinkedIn, the more straightforward route is finding someone within your own firm or chambers. There will be numerous experienced, eager and helpful senior lawyers ready to guide you; they will have been in the same position as you and will be able to give you pragmatic advice. Find someone in your department, or even someone who’s had experience in cases and deals in which you have an interest.
Maintaining the relationship
Once you’ve established a mentor-mentee relationship, it’s important to maintain it; lawyers have more pressing matters to tend to than answering questions for people who barely make an effort. You still have to keep impressing them throughout; be punctual, work hard, get all your work done accurately, avoid careless mistakes, and show them that you’re up to the task. This way, when they have an opportunity for you or when they introduce you to someone, they will have confidence in you. Of course, keep the relationship strictly professional, be courteous and respectful, and don’t come off as bothersome or overwhelming.