Making The Most Out Of Mentorship As A Young Lawyer
For young lawyers, it can be difficult to build a career that is – or will become – meaningful to you. Developing relationships with mentors can be a valuable way to stay on a career path that is enjoyable and provides continued growth opportunities. Below are some tips on how to make the most of your mentorship relationships:
1. Build a diverse group of mentors: There is no maximum number of mentors you can have. Think of your mentors as a board of directors; you want to have several mentors with different skills and perspectives that you can rely on for help and advice. Your mentors do not need to be solely lawyers or IP practitioners; they can have any background. You also want to have mentors both inside and outside of your organization. Internal mentors may provide better advice on making the most of your current position and growing within the organization, while external mentors may be good resources for impartial advice or having difficult conversations about potentially leaving your current position.
2. Mine your mentors’ experience and network: Don’t be shy when it comes to asking your mentors to share their experiences or advice. This is likely why they agreed to mentor you. You will also want to be open and honest with them. If your mentor doesn’t have the whole picture, it will difficult for them to coach you to get to the best resolution. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your mentor for introductions to people within their network. Hopefully they can open new doors for you and help you grow.
3. Lead the mentorship relationship: It is important to respectful of your mentor’s time. Just like meetings with your clients or business partners, you need to come prepared to mentorship meetings and be clear about how your mentors can be most helpful to you. Plan ahead and know what you want to discuss and get out of your mentorship meetings. Some good topics to discuss include how to: have a difficult discussion, create a personal development plan, network and build professional relationships, and build a work-life balance.
4. Have reasonable expectations: Mentors want to help you build and grow your career, but you shouldn’t rely on them to solve your problems for you. Mentors are great for coaching you by asking questions and enabling you to come to your own positive resolution. Be willing to learn and embrace the perspectives that your mentors bring to the table. Be open to their feedback and responsive to their suggestions.
Find the right mentors: If you are not sure where to find a mentor, consider signing up for the IPIC Mentorship Program (https://ipic.ca/mentorship-program). The IPIC Mentorship Program helps pair IPIC members with experienced practitioners to foster career development and integration into the IP community.