To all of our students, mentors, faculty and other readers, all of us at The St. Thomas Law Mentor Blog wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy start to 2010! We will be taking a holiday break until next week.
One of the great advantages of our mentor program is that gives our students the change to explore different practice areas and practice settings so they can find the vocation that fits them best. Law school is expensive and it can be hard to figure out exactly what type of lawyer or what type of employment will really fit you best. Too many lawyers graduate and guess at what type of law they want to practice. Many change jobs multiple times in the first five years of their career as they try to find the right fit. Others end up staying in jobs where they are miserable and wonder how they ended up there. For a good story about how you end up there check out this post from Lawyerist: http://lawyerist.com/what-kind-of-lawyer-do-you-really-want-to-be/ .
Interestingly, one of the key strategies recommended by Lawyerist is to find a mentor who practices in a practice area in which you are interested. Getting a mentor has several advantages. First, they can tell you what practicing in that area of law is really like. Second, they can help you identify the key skills you need to develop to excel in your chosen practice area. Finally, in this tough economy a mentor can help you network and understand the job market in that practice area. Who knows, one of the connections your mentor helps you make could be the one that lands the job you really want.
By Adam Heuett – Student Contributor
Humans are emotional creatures affected by a variety of intense internal and external causes. In other words, we do not exist in a vacuum of emotional stimuli, so it is impractical to think that we could ever eradicate stress (the product of our emotional reactions) completely from our lives. We should, however, diligently work to avoid the “glass case of emotion” so eloquently described by Will Ferrell in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. One of the best ways to avoid this case is to break out of it and reach out to our fellow humans. Once of the best ways to combat stress is to utilize your allies, especially your law mentor. Friends and family are always helpful, but many of them cannot directly relate to what you are going through unless they have gone to law school as well. The stress of constantly pouring over dense legal texts, cases, and theories, the fear of being called on in class, the papers, the oral arguments and, oh yes, the finals…that one test that determines an entire semester’s worth of study in one subject. When all of these things start to weight on you, it is nice to talk to someone who has not only been there, but who persevered through the intensity.
Up until this point, your relationship with your mentor may be strictly professional with the occasional casual conversation about school, his/her law practice, the weather, etc. It is good to note, however, that your mentor is there for more than just providing a professional example; he or she can also be a personal and professional guide as you work your way through law school and into the legal profession. Next time you sit down to talk with your mentor, ask him or her about the most stressful part of his/her practice. How does your mentor deal with the stress? You can even ask your mentor about his or her law school experience and survival methods. You really have nothing to lose by getting to know your mentor on another level and opening up. This can only improve the mentor-protégé relationship.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that when we are stressed or troubled, we often look for people to give us “the answer” that is going to fix everything. While your mentor can certainly provide advice and helpful tips, he or she may not have the exact answer that is going to work for you. Ultimately, it is up to us to find out what works best and candid conversation with your mentor is a great place to start. At the very least, you are going to get some great tips and you never know how fruitful those tips may be in the long run.