“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton
If you had the opportunity to ask most successful people in the world about the secret to their success, you would hear each of them—almost without fail—point to one or more mentors in their lives. In fact, despite our American culture of so-called “rugged individualism,” true success rarely happens without mentorship.
In my experience helping lawyers grow their firms, I can’t overstate how important it is for newer attorneys to have at least one more experienced lawyer and/or business professional to help guide their success. I’m not saying you can’t grow your law firm without a mentor, but it’s safe to say you’ll have much more of an uphill climb.
Benefits of Mentorship
Why do lawyers find greater success more quickly through mentorship? Let’s look at some of the most common benefits:
- Avoid common mistakes. A mentor can point out the most common pitfalls you might face along the way so you don’t become a victim, saving you potentially years of expensive drawbacks.
- Insider insights. I can’t tell you how many times I hear new lawyers say, “They never taught me this in law school.” A mentor can impart secret wisdom to help you navigate the practice of law (and running a business) in the real world.
- Needed encouragement. No one understands the challenges of starting a law firm more than someone who has done it successfully. When you find your resolve flagging, a mentor can give you the courage to stay the course.
Finding the Right Mentor
Of course, you shouldn’t look to just anyone to mentor you. Placing that kind of trust in the wrong person can backfire quickly. So what are some traits you should look for to find the right mentor for your firm?
- Look for someone with a track record of success. If you’re a trial lawyer, for example, how can you trust the mentorship of an attorney who has never won a case? Make sure your mentor has blazed a trail to success that you can follow in turn.
- Look for someone who offers a blend of encouragement and candor. You do need encouragement, but not coddling. You need a mentor who can offer constructive critique when necessary.
- Look for someone who brings out your best self. You don’t want a mentor looking to create carbon copies of himself. You want one who will help you grow into the best lawyer you can be—not always giving you the answers, but guiding you to find them for yourself. Steven Spielberg actually puts it well: “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
Building a successful law firm is difficult as it is; without good mentoring, the difficulty compounds. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone. We help law firms like yours find their own path to success. To learn more, call us at (888) 375-2573.