1. Understand. As you begin the mentoring process, you should understand the purposes and limits of the program. The purposes include: introducing you to one practicing attorney in the community, giving you a real-world sense of at least one attorney’s practice, and expanding your network of persons you can turn to with questions about law school and the practice of law. Your attorney mentor has been told that they are expected to meet with you (at a minimum) 1-2 times during the academic year (lunch, job shadowing, or other activity) and to be available for an occasional email, phone call, and resume review. Your attorney is NOT expected to take the initiative to check in with you regularly or set you up with employment. If they do that, it is a bonus. Remember that your assigned attorney mentor will not be the only mentor you find in law school—PDO offers numerous chances to mingle with practicing attorneys. This is simply one great way.
2. Communicate. Be proactive- don’t wait for your mentor to contact you. Once mentor pairs are assigned, it is the responsibility of the student to get the ball rolling by emailing or calling their mentor and arrange to meet. If your mentor suggests a meeting, be prompt in responding to the invitation. Don’t let it age. If you have trouble connecting, be persistent. The attorneys really do want to help, but sometimes can get bogged down in a busy case.
3. Learn. Be open to what your attorney has to offer, even if it is not what you might have expected, or in the field you think you want to practice. The attorneys who oversee the program did their best to use your application questionnaires to help pair you with a mentor according to your interests. Talk to your mentor about topics including: why they’ve chosen their profession/that employer, their career path, or how they set priorities. Ask for helpful practice tips on time management, developing client relationships, and strategies for advancing in their organization.
4. Be Professional. Keep confidential or sensitive information to yourself. If you have concerns, talk to PDO. Follow up promptly with any email or phone call from your mentor, and include a phone number in any email to your mentor.
5. Follow Up. After the year ends, keep in touch with your mentor. You mentor will serve as a valuable contact in your ever-growing professional network. Remember that the secret to networking is not just who you know, but who those people know!