Last Wednesday, PDO hosted a noontime professionalism panel entitled “Making the Most of Your Mentor Relationship”, which featured three mentor/mentee pairs. The panelists included Heidi Goebel, Christensen & Jensen & Jennifer Horne, Chapman & Cutler; Angelina Tsu, Zions Bankcorp & Javier Mixco (SJQ 2012); Jason Watson, Hall Prangle & Schoonfeld & Ryan Beckstrom (SJQ 2013). This article features a few helpful tips provided by the panelists that can assist you, along with your mentor, in creating a successful and meaningful professional relationship.
Q: I have signed up for the mentoring program. What will it do for me? What can I expect from my mentor?
A: At the very least, you will be able to get the mentor’s perspective on law school, the use of a J.D., their own practice, and others in the community where they practice. They want you to learn from them and what they do, because they love to help.
In the past, mentors have supported their mentees in a variety of ways–including helping students narrow/expand their job searches, introducing their mentees to members of the legal community both inside (and outside) of their practice areas in order to help them to expand their network, and inviting mentees to “shadow” them in a variety of aspects of their jobs, etc.
Q: What are my duties as a student to foster the relationship?
A: You will get your match contact information via email. Once you do, it is on you to email or call your mentor immediately to set up an initial meeting—lunch, coffee, an in-office meeting. A full list of “mentee” responsibilities can be found in a previous Career Brief article by clicking here: http://today.law.utah.edu/careerbrief/attorney-student-mentoring-program/
Q: What kinds of things should I do with my mentor? Ask him or her about?
A: The panelists encouraged students to regularly take the time to contact their mentors and, when emailed/called, to always respond to their mentors in a timely manner. Students should also suggest hands-on activities, such as observing a court hearing, etc., which will expose them to their mentor’s legal practice.
Q: What if I don’t want to do (professionally) exactly what my mentor does? Is it worth it to be in the program?
A: Even though your mentor may not practice the type of law you want to practice, you may change your mind. More importantly, many of the skills you will observe are transferrable.