What I looked for in a mentor changed from my first year to my second year and has changed once again as I head into my third year.
First year: Going into my first year, I was nervous— of class, the Socratic Method, meeting people, learning how to read a case, and the list goes on and on. What I looked for in a mentor was guidance—a person who would lead me in the right direction. It did not matter whether the mentor was a litigator or a transactional attorney, or whether they practiced family law or bankruptcy law; what mattered is that they had conquered their first year and they could help me conquer mine too. I needed a mentor that would show me the way into the legal profession.
Second Year: Yes, I made it through my first year! It was tough but I did it. Going into second year, I was not scared anymore which helped me focus more on the question “what do I want to do?” At this point, I wanted a mentor who would teach me about their practice and give me advice on different areas of law. I needed someone to educate me. I was looking for a mentor to help me better understand the path I wanted to take.
Third Year: After spending second year pondering what I should do with my life, I finally have a general idea of what I want to do: transactional work. Now that I know what I want to do, I need a mentor who can be an advisor. I need a mentor who is in the same line of work to help me better understand how to narrow my focus. I need a mentor who can advise me on how succeed in this area of law—what steps to take to take this year to ensure that I am heading in the right direction. Lastly, I need a mentor who truly wants to help me accomplish my goals. Hopefully after my third year I will have a solid footing in the transactional area of law!
Although I only focused on the types of mentors I need during law school, the point of this blog is to illustrate the importance of the different mentoring needs throughout life. Once I start working, I am going to need a mentor in the firm to help show me the ropes both in my firm and in the profession. When I start a family, I’m going to need a mentor to show me how to balance those life demands with professional success! Various stages of life require different needs and so what I look for in a mentor will keep changing.