"Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction." –John Crosby.
Mentoring means something different for everyone. You might occasionally meet for coffee and a few lawyer jokes or you might spend all summer helping them prepare for trial. Either option will benefit you.
If you're wondering whether you should find a legal mentor, the short answer is yes. It may take a while to find someone you're compatible with but don't give up. The long-term benefits when you find the right person make the search worthwhile.
Especially if you come from a non-legal family, it is important to have some idea of what a lawyer does daily and what it means to be a good lawyer. You might think that law school will teach you that, but you'll only scratch the surface. Although you learn a lot about legislation and the common law at university, there's a massive difference between law school and the real world that's not explained in any textbook.
Finding a mentor either while you're at uni or early in your professional life will make your transition from student to lawyer a lot smoother. Career wise, finding a mentor early is a step in the right direction. Your mentor may be able to offer you some valuable legal work experience and can keep an eye out for any upcoming employment opportunities that might suit you.
However, it's the personal benefits that make finding a mentor important. You'll start to become more confident in your legal abilities when your mentor asks you a question and you come up with the right answer. Your mentor will share their personal experiences and knowledge with you so learn all that you can.
On a serious note, when you're feeling stressed about life or the law, it's reassuring to know that you can contact someone older and wiser than you for advice. Often, mentors will have faced a similar problem themselves and can offer you strategies to cope with your situation. Studying and practicing law can be isolating and it is important to discuss any problems you're having with someone you trust before they escalate. Your mentor won't regard this as an inconvenience, they are more likely to be pleased that you value their opinion and trust them enough to ask for their help.
If you want to find a mentor but don't know where to start looking, ask friends, family, your university or your state's law society for suggestions.
I know firsthand the benefits of finding the right mentor. For the past two years, I have been mentored by a leader in my chosen field, a person who I greatly respect both professionally and personally. Fellow Survivors, may you find a wonderful mentor who is as generous with their time, wisdom and soy lattes as my mentor is.
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