By Susan Smith Blakely • January 22, 2020•Careers, Other Career Issues
January is Mentoring Month. It is a way of bringing attention to the importance of mentoring to young and inexperienced workers in a variety of jobs. Workers who wish to advance to levels of management and leadership in their chosen work lives need mentoring to get there.
The value of effective mentoring is not only recognized widely, but it also plays out in the lives of managers and leaders throughout our country and the world. Those managers and leaders likely would not have gotten to such heights without help from mentors.
The law business is no different. Mentoring is key to advancing in private practice from associate to partner and in the public sector from entry level to management and in the corporate setting from associate general counsel to general counsel.
I recently had the privilege of sitting for an interview at American Inns of Court to commemorate Mentoring Month. The Inns of Court, which had its beginnings over 200 years ago in England to promote civility and respect in the law profession, has now spread to outposts around the world. The American Inns of Court is one of those outposts and is headquartered in the Washington, DC area. There also are local chapters in major cities around the country.
Here is how the American Inns of Court describes its mission and the experience as a member on its website:
The American Inns of Court is an association of lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals from all levels and backgrounds who share a passion for professional excellence. Through regular meetings, members are able to build and strengthen professional relationships; discuss fundamental concerns about professionalism and pressing legal issues of the day; share experiences and advice; exhort the utmost passion and dedication for the law; provide mentoring opportunities; and advance the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and civility. Our Inns have gained a national and international reputation as an organization that bridges the gap between formal law school education and legal practice by offering career-long continuing education in the Common Law tradition.
As you can see, the American Inns of Court takes mentoring seriously. After reading my books, the leadership there requested that I sit for an interview and questioning by a young law student, who is a member of the American Inns of Court.
The interview lasted hours and was reduced to a series of eight videos that were sent out to all 30,000 members of the American Inns of Court. The subjects of those videos included mentoring needs and responsibilities, interviewing skills, how to work with managers, and challenges to the retention and advancement of women lawyers.
If you are a member of American Inns of Court, you should check out the videos. If you are not a member, maybe you should be. Or maybe you know one of those 30,000 members, who would be willing to share with you.
Mentoring is critically important to your future success in the law profession. I hear success stories, and I also hear horror stories. The horror stories make me crazy because it seems to me that mentoring is an implied condition of employment in such demanding work.
If it is not, it should be.
Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law. She is author of Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar: The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another. Her third book in the series, Best Friends at the Bar: Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, focuses on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and was released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in 2015.
Ms. Blakely’s new book for ALL young lawyers, What Millennial Lawyers Want: A Bridge from the Past to the Future of Law Practice, will be released by Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers in the summer of 2018.
Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including Corporate Counsel Magazine, the ABA Journal, the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, Women Lawyers Journal (NAWL), DC Spotlight, Lawyerist.com, Daily Muse, Lawyer and Statesman, Law.com, Georgetown Law Magazine, Legal Toolkit Podcast, and Huffington Post Business. Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues in business and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division. She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" and the Lawyer Monthly “Women in Law Award 2016” for her work on behalf of women in the law.
Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and is certified as a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy. For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com.