Mentor in Law: Volume 41 | March 2022 | Mentorship Tips
VOLUME 41 | MARCH 1, 2022
Topic: Mentorship Tips
Contributor: Özgür Kahale
Given what's happening in our world today, I thought it would be helpful to share some useful links about geopolitics (especially if you're new to foreign policy and international affairs) and more specifically, how you can help in Ukraine. 🇺🇦❤️
men · tor
an experienced and trusted adviser
Whether you're a law student or already a lawyer, one of the best things you can do for your career is to seek out a mentor/group of mentors. In the legal profession, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a mentor. Law school teaches you to understand and apply the law, but it does not prepare you adequately to practice law or teach you how to be a lawyer. The right mentor can provide advice, connections, and support that can help you reach heights that would be impossible alone. Mentorship is an even more important and necessary asset in today's wild world.
1) Assemble your personal dream team. There are different types of mentors, and you should consider seeking out the different kinds. A few to consider: connector, coach, challenger, champion, and role model. But focus on quality over quantity. Though there's no minimum or maximum number of mentors you should have, I consider 5 as my magic number of mentors at any given time. Everyone has an opinion but be discerning about whose advice you take. Cultivate a small group of people who will always be in your corner whenever you need support or help in your career. Find people whose work you respect, who you may want to be like, and who you feel comfortable with. As you change jobs and move different directions in your career, this "dream team" will likely change as well. While you should have at least one mentor who directly understands your work and field, consider also finding mentors outside of your practice area or industry. Sometimes, all you need is a completely fresh perspective. Read through the newsletter archives to find new mentors.
2) Be thoughtful and intentional with your outreach. There are both informal and formal channels for finding a mentor, and both have their value. For formal programs, reach out to your law school, alumni networks, local/national bar associations, etc. to see what's available. For informal mentors, do your due diligence on your potential mentor before reaching out. Follow their work on social media, research their practice area, check if they have published any articles, see if you have any mutual connections, attend an event that they're speaking at, etc. Reach out with a genuine, personalized message and anchor it in a mutual interest/contact or something you found interesting in their work. Instead of focusing on what YOU need, consider what value you can offer them. Generally, do not ask someone to be your mentor. Most often, relationships evolve organically into mentoring relationships (and then friendships).
3) Mentorship is a give and take relationship (and not a transaction). As a young professional, it may feel like you may not have much to offer initially, but at the very least, be immensely respectful and appreciative of your mentor's time and advice. They are under no obligation to help you or give their time so generously, so to ensure it's a mutually enriching experience, be punctual, show gratitude, and be proactive. Be flexible with scheduling, show up on time, come prepared with focused questions, send thank you emails/notes, follow through with the advice if you say you will, update your mentor on how it's going, and be of service when you can. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of following through with the advice and keeping your mentor updated on how their advice worked out for you. This is fundamental to establishing a productive, long-term relationship. Think of mentorship as a marathon, not a sprint.
[VIDEO] Mentorship in the Law: https://youtu.be/RfEfyy2cpCs
Why Mentoring Matters, NYTimes
Essential Elements of Mentoring, Forbes
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Meet Özgür Kahale
In Özgür's words: "I am the Director of Pro Bono for Europe for DLA Piper and I also lead our work on 'Access to Justice and Technology'. I am an international lawyer with extensive experience in project finance and a scholar of corporate social responsibility with a focus on human rights and investment."
- Were you a first-generation law student?
- What is your current role and practice area?
I manage DLA Piper’s pro bono practice in 18 countries. I develop key relationships and projects with prominent European NGOs, UN Agencies, and disadvantaged individuals to facilitate access to justice for the vulnerable populations and to advance pro bono in Europe.
- Since hindsight is 20/20, what is one thing you would have done differently in law school?
I would talk to more lawyers in order to understand what could be my professional prospects. I found my path in law by trial and error and it was stressful.
- What advice would you give new lawyers entering the profession?
Ask a lot of questions and do not assume anything. Try to understand why you are doing what you are doing in a profound way. Do not buy into clichés but draw your own path with consciousnesses.
- What new mandatory class would you add to legal education?
I think we should all study the history, philosophy and psychology of law when we are young. This will make us question why we are doing what we are doing. If we can find the intrinsic reasons of our thinking and behavior, we can motivate ourselves better and stay on course towards reaching our goals and objectives in life.
- What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
When I was a trainee lawyer my first boss and supervisor once told me “people create their own luck”. He said that in response to my comment about being lucky to have had a chance to interview with him. He was the General Counsel of a big bank and I genuinely thought that it was a matter of luck to have had a chance to talk to him about my job prospects. He reminded me that I was before him because of my CV and I had worked hard to craft it. His comment always reminds me to give credit to myself for my achievements and think about ways to keep on creating my luck.
- What is one way we can improve D&I in the legal profession?
People are inclined to work with people who are like them. When one recruits, one has a tendency to favor the candidate who resemble them. If we can be conscious of this behavior and think along the lines of “what can I learn from someone who is not like me”, we might increase the diversity in the profession.
- What is one prediction that you would make about the future of law?
Technology will take over most of the jobs in the legal industry. Laws will be codes uploaded on computers and analysis will be done by computers. A lawyer's job will be to teach law to the computers, troubleshoot and check their work. I am very invested in the access to justice and technology work since 2017 when I started organizing the Access to Justice and Technology Summit for DLA Piper. Since the Summit, I have developed a number of projects in the legal tech space, published a book chapter, gave presentations, wrote articles, and organized trainings on legal design, future of law, technology and pro bono.
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