Become a Mentee
Minority students are encouraged to complete and submit an application to be assigned to an outstanding judge or lawyer. Mentorships are extremely valuable not only to guide you through selecting the appropriate coursework, but setting a direction and roadmap for after you graduate. Mentors can help teach you things that are not typically taught in school such as networking.
We recommend that you sign up to become a mentee during your first year of law school, but it is never too late. You will typically find that you will get out of the mentoring program what you put into it.
Initiate and Prepare.
Do not fear initiating contact with your mentor. Take the first step to contact your mentor and schedule a meeting date and time. Make a list of areas you would like to cover at your first meeting. Let your mentor know your educational and professional objectives and ask about his/her experiences. Identify your needs and communicate them. You should always remember that though a mentor-mentee is a professional relationship, a mentor can serve as a friend.
Honor your Commitment.
Your mentor probably has a very demanding job and has volunteered to take on the added responsibility of mentoring. Please be considerate of your mentor’s time and investment. You should realize that a mentor is doing this for you. Don’t be too busy when your mentor calls.
Stay in touch by phone or email.
When you cannot meet in person, keep in touch electronically. Check in from time to time, leave a brief progress report, or just say hello. Continued communication is vital to the success of your mentor/mentee relationship. Always return communications promptly.
Stay informed about your mentor’s work and clients.
You were paired with your mentor because of areas of interest you share in common. Take an active interest in your mentor’s work. Be familiar with your mentor’s clients or projects and the ways your mentor serves them.
Although this relationship is paired, you should look for a mentor you can relate to (e.g. age, gender, race, neighborhood, schools, etc.).
Be willing to learn new things and obtain another perspective. When offered by your mentor, be responsive to suggestions and constructive criticism. Seek advice when the going gets tough – before taking drastic action. Ask for help when needed, as a mentor is not mind reader and needs to be made aware of your situation. Even though your mentor will be discrete and confidential, keep the relationship professional and within ethical rules of your law school.
Expect support, not miracles.
A mentor serves to offer guidance based on his or her experiences. You can expect a certain level of support from a mentor, but he or she cannot solve your problems for you. A mentor can offer feedback or serve as sounding board. Always appreciate your differences – you are not your mentor’s clone, daughter, son, or responsibility. Mentees should understand that mentors are human and make mistakes. Mentors should be upfront that they are not perfect and should share with their mentees some of the things they have done that have not worked so that the mentee can learn from the mentor’s experience.
Help your mentor help you.
Let your mentor know how much you appreciate his/her help. Ask questions (even if you think they might be basic). You should know that your mentor truly cares. Therefore, feel free to ask for feedback and advice as there is no need to feel shy or be afraid. This is your opportunity to learn.
Keep up your end.
Work hard at being a good law student and mentee. You should be an active manager of your mentor/mentee relationship. Since you directly benefit from a successful relationship, it is to your benefit to take the lead and direct the course of the relationship.
When you decide to act on your mentor’s suggestion, report back to him/her. Keep your mentor informed of your progress.
Plan for the next meeting.
Prepare to discuss your progress from your last meeting. Develop a list of areas you wish to discuss at your next meeting. Contact your mentor to schedule a date and time for your next meeting.
Note: This list was initially prepared by the Cuban American Bar Association (“CABA”) for its Annual Mentoring luncheon on April 15, 2010. It has been slightly edited. CABA has been a long-time, big supporter of mentoring.