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Feb 24, 2013

Mentoring Law Firm Associates: Getting the Basics Right


I am the chair of our three member executive committee. We are a 20 attorney firm in Atlanta. We have 5 partners and 15 associates. We have done a terrible job of mentoring our associates and we need to do better. Do you have any ideas?


A law firm's greatest asset is its people and your associates are your firm's future. Lack of mentoring is one of the biggest complaints that we hear from associates in on-site interviews.While you may be too small for a comprehensive formal mentoring program you should at least explore an informal program. Start with baby steps and go from there. 

The keys to successful mentoring relationships involve the mentor and mentee deciding on the logistics up front. Many potential mentoring pairs fail to form because the parties did not agree
on the little things up front. Below are tips designed to help both participants in formal and informal programs:

1. Meeting schedule:  Decide on an approximate meeting schedule. Suggest that meetings be scheduled at least once a month.

2. Means to schedule meetings: Share the best way to get on each other’s calendar.

3. Scheduled meetings: Don’t wait until the end of one meeting to schedule the next. Always have the next two or three meetings on the calendar.

4. Length of program/partnership: For formal programs; the firm may suggest a length of time to meet (usually a year). For informal mentoring, suggest having a date on the calendar to review goals and examine the relationship.

5. Confidentiality: Mentors and Mentees need to discuss what confidentiality means to them. It is the foundation of trust, which is the basic currency of mentoring.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Posted at 03:19 PM in Career Management, Human Resources
Tags: Law firm associate mentoring

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