Mentors

You detest your boss. You can’t stand your coworkers. You want to die if you have to work another 100-hour week. If that sounds familiar, then you’re in good company with many other attorneys who hate their job. Unfortunately, you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Maybe you’ve only been at your job for a year or less, or you have no other job prospects at the moment.

When you’re stuck at a job you loathe, what can you do to not only survive, but even thrive in it? Try these tips, provided to you by the experienced recruiters at Lateral Link….

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Over the past few weeks, the ugly truth about the generational gap between those who claim the moniker of “Gen Y lawyer” and, well, everyone else, has been raging through the blogosphere. While younger generations have always looked at their elders as “stupid,” and not worthy of listening to, it has never been as much a part of the legal profession as it is now. The Gen Y cheerleading squad of lawyers and their marketers believe there actually is a “revolution” in the legal profession and that if those who have come before don’t get with it and move their practices to the iPad, they (we) will go the way of the dinosaur.

They also think their elders want them to fail, are scared of them stealing clients, and only offer criticism for these reasons. I hate to break it to you kids, but I want you to succeed, and my clients aren’t hiring you. They’re not hiring your website or your Facebook Fan Page. Really, they’re not…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Does Anyone Want a Mentor Anymore?”

Specialty bar associations can be great opportunities for in-house lawyers to grow their network and develop their careers. Unlike some mega bar associations, they tend to feel more intimate and collegial, even if their membership numbers are pretty large, because the members share a common interest.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the NAPABA (National Asian Pacific American Bar Association) convention in Atlanta. This organization represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and about 65 local bar associations. And let me tell you, they had a lot going on at their annual gathering. And I don’t just mean the after-hours partying….

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I was never a huge fan of firm mentoring programs. In the days after firms started cracking down on using mentoring funds for hookers and blow, mentoring became distinctly less exciting. For the male associates, it seemed to revolve around mass quantities of red meat and booze. For the female associates, it was a lot of talk about “feelings,” and “glass ceilings,” and figuring out how to get a manicure on the firm’s dime. And while pretty nails are always nice, it was just one more billable hour that I’d have to make up at night.

But perhaps creative mentoring isn’t dead after all. It seems as though the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association might be trying to bring some fun back to its mentorship program. The MHBA recently distributed fliers on the University of Minnesota Law School campus that bear images of some pretty questionable-looking foliage.

Was this just an innocent mistake, or are Minnesota Law students being offered a chance to expand their horizons in more ways than one? You be the judge, after the jump….

UPDATE (6:30 PM): We’ve added statements from a board member of the MHBA and from the president of the Latino Law Student Association at the University of Minnesota, also after the jump.

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At the Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference, sponsored by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), there was a great lunchtime discussion called “Her Stories: The Evolving Role of Women in Business and Law.” It featured a panel of heavy hitters: two women currently serving as general counsel to Fortune 500 companies, and a third who previously served as GC to no fewer than four Fortune 500 companies over her career.

What does their rise say about the changing role of women in the corporate legal world? How did they get to their lofty perches? And what advice would they offer to lawyers aspiring to such successful careers?

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Recently I talked to a fourth-year-associate friend of mine who’d been working at a new small firm for several months. When I asked him how it was going, he said “great” in a way that suggested anything but. So I pressed him for more. The work was fine, he insisted. The clients were fine. His associates were cool. Great, I said. So what was the problem?

Well, he finally let on, there was this partner.

OK, I said. What about this partner?

Well, he said, he’s making my life a living hell. In fact, my friend said, it was so bad, he was thinking of leaving the firm.

What made this partner so horrible?

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I am not a mentor!

Never have been. Never will be. Don’t care to be.

I’m a lawyer. I’m a co-worker. In some cases, I may be a friend. But I’m not a mentor; I have no time for that crap.

When I was clerking (for the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit), my judge was (and remains) a delight. She was a warm, engaging person who treated everyone as an equal. She was living proof that you don’t have to give up on human kindness just because you’ve become powerful. She taught, by example, many lessons about work-life balance and the meaning of humanity.

But a mentor? They hadn’t invented the word “mentor” (at least with its current connotation) back in 1983. I don’t think Judge Nelson gave the idea a moment’s thought….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Don’t Be A Mentor!”

Are you ready for some stop-gap measures?

Given that law schools keep pumping out more graduates than the market can handle, the state of Oregon is trying an interesting approach to deal with the mass of lawyers being unleashed into the system. Following in the footsteps of Georgia and Utah, Oregon will now require new lawyers to enroll in a year-long mentoring program.

People sitting for the February bar were informed that they will be subject to this new requirement. The goal of the program is to provide some guidance for all the unemployed law graduates, especially those who are thinking of going out there and hanging a shingle.

Because, you know, it’s not like three years in law school actually prepare you to start a career…

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