Mentor in Law: Volume 42 | April 2022 | Mentoring Best Practices for Mentees

VOLUME 42 | APRIL 1, 2022

Topic: Mentoring Best Practices for Mentees

Contributor: Celina Lee


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. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mentorship and mentors come in all different shapes and forms.

At Mentor in Law, we believe in impactful mentorship. As a mentee, the more you put into a mentoring relationship, the more you'll get out of it.

Take some time to learn some best practices, so you can maximize the opportunity.

1) The mentee should drive the mentoring relationship.

The mentee should be the main driver of the mentoring relationship. Your mentor can't read your mind on what you need help with, so help them help you by setting expectations and creating clear goals from the very beginning. Ask them how often you two should touch base, how they would prefer to be contacted, etc. As the mentee, it is your responsibility to create the agenda and send any calendar invites for meetings. Show your mentor that you're invested in the mentoring relationship by responding to emails, seeking feedback, and following up with any deliverables in a timely manner. As a general rule, aim to respond to emails within 24 hours.

2) Understand what a mentor is and isn't. 

Your mentor is NOT your therapist or career coach. Those are markedly different from the roles and responsibilities of a mentor. Always set expectations from the very beginning. Make sure your mentor is able to provide the support you need, so be up front in your first meeting about what you're hoping to achieve from the mentoring relationship.

3) Always come prepared with questions + goals. 

Prior to every meeting, prepare an agenda and have a list of questions. Create clear, defined goals using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) framework. Doing your homework not only ensures that your sessions are as productive as possible, but also shows your mentor that you're dedicated to making progress. This, in turn, will likely make your mentor want to invest in you further. While preparing, consider why you wanted a mentor and what you're hoping to gain from the experience. Creating clear goals can help you keep track of your progress.

4) Be mentorable.  

Be open, honest, considerate, and grateful, while taking ownership for arranging meetings, seeking feedback, preparing appropriately, and acting on your mentor's advice. Your mentor is voluntarily giving up their time to pass on their skills and knowledge for your professional development, so be flexible and accommodate their schedule. Show your mentor gratitude for their time by respecting it. Arrive on time for all meetings and keep your emails concise. Be sure to send regular follow-up thank you emails.

5) Follow up, follow up, follow up. 

Always follow up. Let your mentor know what resulted from your conversation/how their advice worked out, or thank them for putting you in touch with someone who told you about a job opening, etc. This is an important touch point and critical to building a solid, sustainable mentoring relationship. Set a reminder or put it in your calendar so you don't forget.


[VIDEO] Mentorship in the Law: https://youtu.be/RfEfyy2cpCs
Why Mentoring Matters, NYTimes 
Essential Elements of Mentoring, Forbes



From triple-board certified psychiatrist, Shivani Chopra, MD 



Meet Celina Lee


Celina Lee is a renowned career coach, award-winning writer, and podcast host of Live Your Dream Podcast. She started her career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and worked as a corporate lawyer at a law firm, Ropes & Gray LLP in New York City.

  • Were you a first-generation law student?


  • What is your current role and practice area?

I am a career and executive coach, and help many professionals including a lot of lawyers transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into careers they love. 

  • What kind of law did you practice before?

I was a private equity lawyer at Ropes & Gray LLP in New York City.  

  • Why did you decide to leave the law and how did you make that transition? 

I started my career as an investment banker and worked as a corporate lawyer, and learned the hard way the importance of doing work that is meaningful to me. 

I grew up believing that if I worked hard to go to good schools and get good jobs, I would one day end up being happy and successful.

But after I worked so hard for so many years and finally achieved what I thought I had wanted, I was not fulfilled.

So for the first time in my life, I gave myself permission to do the things that I was curious about and brought me joy even though it had nothing to do with my legal career. 

This led me to write and publish a book which was my childhood dream, launching my community, Give One Dream, to help people pursue their dreams, and launching my podcast, Live Your Dream with Celina Lee.

All my life experiences led me to become a career and executive coach, and I help many professionals including a lot of lawyers step out of fear and take action towards doing the work that brings them joy and living a life that is fulfilling and meaningful.  

  • What advice would you give new lawyers entering the profession?

In order to find true career fulfillment, try to find an intersection of the things you like to do, you are good at, and that you find to be meaningful. This was the common theme of all the successful people I’ve met. If you want to learn more about it, I’ve written about it here. 

Give yourself the permission to pursue your curiosities and interest even though it has nothing to do with your job as a lawyer or the legal profession. 

Follow your curiosity, not your passion. Curiosity is like a whisper and you need to pay close attention to be able to hear it. Give yourself the permission to pursue them, and your curiosity may lead to, reveal, or develop into a passion. 

  • What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Courage is more important than confidence. It is foolish to think that you will be confident in something before you even try, because confidence is built as a result of repeated success in the past. What’s important is a courageous action, because action lessens fears and grows confidence. 

  • Since hindsight is 20/20, what is one thing you would have done differently in law school?

I was very stressed out in law school and spent so much time studying, and rarely did anything else. 

I went to U.C. Berkeley Law School, and many years after I graduated, I went to visit the campus and was shocked to learn how beautiful the campus was. I never realized it while I was there.

I wish I had allowed myself more time to explore and enjoy the beautiful campus, and make more friends not just in law school but also in other departments and schools.

  • What is one prediction that you would make about the future of law?

I think lawyers and law students would greatly benefit from learning about themselves before choosing their path in the legal field. This is because true career fulfillment is possible only when what we do is aligned with who we are.  

We spend so much time learning about the law but don’t have a chance to learn about ourselves, so we take a job that is not right for us and often choose a path that others have defined for us, which explains why so many of us are unhappy in our careers. 

I believe gaining self-awareness and knowing our values are the first step towards discovering work that is aligned with who we are, and wish everyone entering the legal profession had a chance to learn about themselves before deciding their career path. 


🧡 Be sure to fill in your mentee registration form to take part in the 1:1 mentorship program.

🧡 We have a curated collection of more than 100 mentors that are associates and partners from AmLaw100 firms, in-house counsel at Fortune 500 companies, recruiters in BigLaw, and more. We're always interested in adding more mentors to our database, so feel free to apply to become a mentor.


"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." | Maya Angelou 


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