Need a Career Boost? Find a Mentor
Jamy J. Sullivan, J.D., Robert Half
Whether you’re fresh out of school or a legal professional with more tenure, getting advice from your peers and superiors will make you a better lawyer. What’s more, the benefits seem to go both ways: More than one-third of senior executives polled by Robert Half said that being a mentor helped them improve their own leadership skills.
Potential mentors can be anywhere and anyone, including fellow professionals, a sympathetic boss, or even a law school professor or alum.
This is a profession tailor-made for collaboration, so there’s no need to go it alone. Here are four ways mentors can help you take your legal career to the next level.
They act as a sounding board
Your mentor has been there, done that. They can critique your presentation the night before you show it to your boss or suggest an outfit for the company picnic. Your mentor wants you to perform well since that reflects well on them. Everybody wins.
Then there are the cases you’ll handle. Some can be tough nuts to crack, whether you’re a newly minted or mid-level legal professional. The law is built on precedent, which means that finding people who have previously argued similar cases can be critical to your success. If you already have a mentor to turn to, you’ll find yourself with a seasoned guide in your early years, or a dependable collaborator in your later ones. Either way, you’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of whose background and experience may end up opening your eyes to a solution you hadn’t seen.
It can be awkward to introduce yourself to people who can help you and hard to know exactly who those people are. Your mentor may be able to introduce you to their contacts or point you in the direction of hiring and promotional opportunities. If your mentor works above you in the same department or firm, they can give you a reference or recommendation when you need one. Think of your mentor as your champion in a tough and competitive field.
Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract, temporary and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit RobertHalf.com.