A few days ago our firm came out with its roster of attorneys and practice groups. The roster lists all of our attorneys, and for associates also identifies their designated partner mentors. As I scanned the roster, I saw that this year, for the first time in a very long time, I do not have any designated associate mentees.
As I mentioned to one of my colleagues, I guess this means I am officially de-mented.
I’ve enjoyed being a mentor over the years. My practice is to take my mentees out to lunch on a relatively regular basis, buy them a good meal, serve as a sounding board if they want to talk about their plans and their problems, and offer my advice if the situation seems to call for it. What older person wouldn’t like flapping their gums to offer advice to an earnest young person? My mentees have become friends, and Kish and I have enjoyed socializing with them, having them over to our house for a cookout and cocktails, and hosting them for an annual holiday meal that has become a fun end of the year tradition for us all.
But, in reality, I’m confident that I’ve gotten far more out of being a mentor than I’ve given. I’ve gotten to know some really fine people who might not have otherwise become friends, I’ve experienced the satisfaction of seeing my mentees move on to success, at the firm and in life, and I’ve gotten repeated reminders of how out of step my thinking is in the modern world. Unfortunately, I also had to deal with one brutal tragedy that still hurts to even think about, when a wonderful young woman died long before her time — but I guess that’s part of being a mentor, too, in that you have to be willing to take the bitter with the sweet.
The other day I got a call from one of my former mentees who left the firm a number of years ago. She was asking for a reference, and in her message she said “you’ve always been a great mentor to me.” Of course I agreed to help if I could, and it made me feel good to think that she still views me as a mentor of sorts. Maybe I’m not totally de-mented after all.