10 Tips for Mentoring a Young Lawyer


Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report in its 14th Annual Global CEO Survey, 98% of Millennial workers believe that working with a coach or mentor is important to their development. More would choose training and development as a benefit than a cash bonus. When I shared information about this survey on Twitter, Jasmine Decarie, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Foley Hoag, wisely pointed out that law firms need to train mentors on mentoring.

Jasmine’s admonition brought me back to my official mentor in BigLaw. He was a kindly gray-haired gentleman in the trial department. Although all first-years were on General Assignment in those days, I wondered why I received a trial lawyer as a mentor, when I wanted to do corporate work.

It was my first day of work as a “real” lawyer. He took me to lunch at an elegant restaurant in a private club, and warmly welcomed me to the firm with polite conversation. I appreciated how nice he was to me that day, especially when I tried to cut my soft-shell crab into a bite-size piece. To my horror, it shot through the red sauce on my plate and skipped across the white tablecloth like a smooth stone on a pond, leaving a bloody trail.

Perhaps my mortification prevented me from recalling any helpful advice from him that day. I’m sure he invited me to let him know if I had any questions. That was our last meeting until the end of my first year, however. When I saw him at firm social events, he politely asked me how I was doing, and I politely responded that I was doing fine.

I was too green to know how to use a mentor, and evidently he wasn’t any better informed about the process. I truly believe that if he had known what to do, he would have done his best. Today when I talk to young associates who have an assigned mentor, some don’t fare much better than I did. So I’m setting out 10 tips on how to be an effective mentor to a young lawyer. Read more «10 Tips for Mentoring a Young Lawyer»

The Proper Care and Feeding of Referral Sources


Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Because I work with a lot of different lawyers, people often contact me when they need to engage one.  Sometimes a friend needs legal services, and I hear from them later about their satisfaction level with the services received. Often, however, a friend calls on behalf of the potential client.  I give them contact info for a couple of appropriate lawyers, which they forward to the client. Usually I give the lawyers I recommend a heads up by email or voicemail…and that’s the last I hear of it.

Over the course of a couple of years, I referred 5 or 6 potential clients to one lawyer. I never even heard whether she got hired. When a new referral request came in, I had a little conversation in my head: “I wonder whether the previous referrals were good matches for her. In any event, she didn’t seem to particularly appreciate them. She never let me know what happened. Did she even say ‘thank you’? I think I’ll send this referral to someone else who will appreciate it.”

Not long after that, I ran into a coach friend. She said to me, “Did that lawyer I referred to you ever call you?” I told her that I had not heard from him. I realized, however, that she might be having a similar conversation in her head. What was I doing to keep my referral source in the loop and to convey my appreciation even for failed referral attempts? Read more «The Proper Care and Feeding of Referral Sources»