(You can find a photograph of this year’s Higginbotham Fellows here. An inspiring group, they are law firm partners, tenured professors, and VPs at Fortune 500 companies, to name just a few.)
What Does “Mentorship” Mean?
Wikipedia defines mentorship as “a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger, but have a certain area of expertise. […] Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time.”
Mentoring Helps Professionals at All Levels Advance Their Careers
As described by Alex Vorro in InsideCounsel.com, “at nearly every stop along the way in attorneys’ careers, opportunities abound for them to engage a wide variety of mentors. And mentoring isn’t just for novice lawyers – even the most experienced attorneys have relationships with peers and even subordinates through which they continue to learn new ideas and improve their practices.”
Many law schools, firms and bar associations have formal mentorship programs, and new attorneys frequently seek out their own mentors on a more informal basis. In addition, many attorneys and mediators form peer mentorships and “roundtables”, which allow seasoned professionals to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of a group to improve their own skill set. And some organizations even have reverse mentorship programs, in which a junior employee mentors a more experienced one in order to bring new perspectives to the organization.
There is Always More to Learn
Having established my full-time ADR practice more than two years ago, after roughly 200 hours of classroom work and practical training, I consider myself a skilled and effective mediator. I train and coach new mediators at the 40-hour Basic Mediation Training, teach Mediation Skills to law students, and have given presentations on mediation to lawyers, managers, and various industry professionals.
However, I am very much aware that I belong to a new generation of dispute resolution professionals, and that there is a wealth of experience in the field from which I can learn – and which I in turn hope to impart to those who follow in my footsteps. I am excited to begin this journey.