Mentoring for Fun and Profit

mentoringGuest post by Thomas Gallagher.

One of the wonderful traditions of lawyering is mentoring. Before law schools, it was the primary way a lawyer was born. Ever since, mentoring is essential to becoming an effective lawyer.

For the person receiving the benefit of the mentoring, sure—but what about the lawyer giving of their time and expertise to a potential new competitor? Here is why you should do it:

  1. The legacy. We naturally tend to want to pass on to others what has been passed on to us. We are a social profession. We are collegial. This is true, even though on one level we are in a conflict-based profession. We give what was given us.
  2. Recognition. We enjoy being the teacher, helping someone learn, and being recognized as an expert.
  3. Referrals. This one is not obvious at first, but any lawyer who has given generously of their time to help colleagues has probably received client referrals as a result—sooner or later. Mentoring is marketing for the long run.

Technology has given us the ability to engage in mentoring relationships more effectively. The telephone makes it easier to reach out to ask and answer questions. Websites, blogs, e-mail listservs and other internet-based technologies help make asking questions and answering them even easier still, by eliminating the need for both parties to be available at the same moment in time. These web-based technologies also make it cheaper and easier for us to share forms and other documents, as well as links to valuable information.

If you give, you shall receive. That is a satisfying truth those to give their time and expertise have learned. Mentoring in the law is probably as old as the law profession itself. Like other aspects of life, technology developments have made these collegial relationships faster, easier, and more productive.

(photo: Matthew Burpee)

Thomas Gallagher is a well-regarded criminal defense attorney in Minneapolis.

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