By Terrie S. Wheeler, MBC
There are myriad law and financial firm recruiting pages that offer prospective associates the opportunity to participate in firm-wide mentorship programs. Associates are to be paired with a partner who cares deeply about their success in private practice, and will do anything possible to help mold said associates into excellent practitioners and future rainmakers at the firm. This is a good point to mention there are two distinct types of mentorship: 1) training lawyers on the intricacies of how to practice law, write briefs, develop case strategy, conduct due diligence and the like; and 2) mentoring new lawyers in the area of marketing and new business development.
This article focuses on marketing mentorship. The kind that involves connecting junior lawyers and financial professionals with senior partners who are willing to show their mentees how to develop into rainmaking, revenue-generating superstars. The author also acknowledges the importance of the first type – skills training – because without a base of legal or financial expertise, the associate ultimately has little to market.
In a perfect world, the goals of mentorship programs will include:
- To impart the business development wisdom and experience gained over many years as a partner, into the hearts and minds of the associates.
- To ensure the transition from the theoretical experience of law school into the pragmatic, in-the-trenches approach to the private practice of law: real problems, real clients, solid solutions.
- To support and encourage associates as they embark on the years-long process of professional development and building a lucrative book of business.
- To lead by example, inviting mentees to participate in proposal initiatives, new business presentations, client interviews, and marketing lunches to see the partner(s) in action and gain the skills they will need to become positive, productive members of the firm.
Many times mentoring good intentions do not translate into productive mentor/mentee relationships. Consider the following scenario:
- There is a lot of enthusiasm upfront as new associates are introduced to their mentor, a partner at the firm who will guide and usher them through the process of building a name for themselves in a highly competitive marketplace.
- The mentor takes the associate to lunch once or twice in the first couple of months; the relationship is off to a great start!
- The partner gets immersed in a complex litigation matter or an all-consuming business transaction (cue: the dramatic music).
- The mentee is put on the proverbial back burner to be reengaged with when the partner “has time.” How often do lawyers actually have expendable time that is not being filled by their generally overcommitted personal and professional obligations? A rhetorical question of course.
Want to talk more about marketing mentorships? Schedule a time to chat with me.