Blake Steel, 1L & Stoel Rives Attorney, Tim Considine
Over 115 of you have been matched with attorney mentor through the Attorney-Student Mentor Program! PDO has already heard from so many excited students and mentors who are eager to meet you. Some of you may be wondering how to reach out to your mentor.
If you have been matched (as all but a few of you have), you should have received an email from PDO with your mentor’s contact information. Google your mentor and their employer to get some idea of what they do. Then, if you haven’t yet heard from your mentor, shoot them an email introducing yourself. They mentors don’t have a copy of your application, so it might be a good idea to include information such as where you are from, what year you are in law school, that you are excited to be paired with them. Suggest that you meet them for coffee, lunch or perhaps just to say hello at their office at a time that is convenient for them. You might suggest a few days that will work over the next few weeks. If you don’t hear back from your mentor in a few days, call them to follow up.
If, on the other hand, your mentor is proactive enough to get in touch with you, get back to them immediately. Not in three days, after pondering the exact-perfect wording for your responsive email!
When you get something set up (a meeting or phone call), just be friendly, professional, and have a few questions (about law school, their job, etc.) ready. You might discuss how the mentoring will work best for both of you—are they open to meeting every so often, taking you to court (if that’s what they do), answering email questions, and reviewing your resume? It’s ok if you don’t get all the details nailed down or even discussed in the first meeting. Take your mentor for what they have to offer and be proactive in following up as needed.
To refresh your memory from the Career Brief a few weeks ago, here are PDO’s Top 5 Ways to be a Good Mentee:
1. Understand. As you begin the mentoring process, you should understand the purposes and limits of the program. The purposes include: introducing you to one practicing attorney in the community, giving you a real-world sense of at least one attorney’s practice, and expanding your network of persons you can turn to with questions about law school and the practice of law. Your attorney mentor has been told that they are expected to meet with you 1-2 times during the academic year (lunch, job shadowing, or other activity) and to be available for an occasional email or phone call. Your attorney is NOT expected to take the initiative to check in with you regularly or set you up with employment. If they do, that, it is nice, but it is a bonus. Remember that your assigned attorney mentor will not be the only mentor you find in law school—PDO offers numerous chances to mingle with practicing attorneys. This is simply one great way.
2. Communicate. Be proactive- don’t wait for your mentor to contact you. Once mentor pairs are assigned, it is the responsibility of the student to get the ball rolling by emailing or calling their mentor and arrange to meet. If your mentor suggests a meeting, be prompt in responding to the invitation. Don’t let it age. If you have trouble connecting, be persistent. The attorneys really do want to help, but sometimes can get bogged down in a busy case.
3. Learn. Be open to what your attorney has to offer, even if it is not what you might have expected, or in the field you think you want to practice. The application questionnaires will be used to help pair you with a mentor according to your interests. Talk to your mentor about topics including: why they’ve chosen their profession/that employer, their career path, or how they set priorities. Ask for helpful practice tips on time management, developing client relationships, and strategies for advancing in their organization.
4. Be Professional. Keep confidential or sensitive information to yourself. If you have concerns, talk to PDO. Follow up promptly with any email or phone call from your mentor, and include a phone number in any email to your mentor.
5. Follow Up. After the year ends, keep in touch with your mentor. You mentor will serve as a valuable contact in your ever-growing professional network. Remember that the secret to networking is not just who you know, but who those people know!