One of the critical best business practices in a law firm is to have a defined mentoring program. Mentoring is a way of passing on knowledge and experience to help other people within the firm to grow.
Mentoring is not the same thing as training a new employee. Rather it is assigning someone within the firm that exhibits the qualities of the type of firm member you want new people to aspire to. A mentoring program applies equally to non-lawyers and lawyers alike. Most law firm owners tell me they have an ‘open door’ policy for their firm but that is not mentoring. Mentoring is a concious effort to work with and allow people to grow and expand their abilities in a way that is productive for the firm.
When I did active law firm administration I had a mentor program that trained the mentors first on how to mentor. Then the selected people were sent to help mentor others. The mentors were required to meet twice a month with the person and utilize it as a way to share knowledge and insight into the firm and the firm’s vision and goals. It also allowed experience to be shared as discussions ensued. In addition the mentor was available to talk as needed. The new firm member was mindful that training questions went to the trainer, HR questions went to the firm’s designed representative and that the mentor’s role was to share knowledge and experience.
Being brand new at anything, including a new firm, is hard enough without trying to figure out all the dynamics of what it means to be a high performance lawyer or a paralegal, even one with experience but entering a new law firm culture. The ability to talk to someone with experience who sees all sides of the picture simply makes for better firm members.
Word of caution: Mentors are not therapists nor are they personal confidents. Their job is to share their knowledge so others can grow. Select your mentors carefully but reward them with praise when they help you grow better firm members.
Feel free to email us if you want more information on mentoring programs. We are glad to help.