Bar News - August 20, 2014
President's Perspective: Helping Lawyers Succeed: It Takes a Village
By: Lisa Wellman-Ally
Shortly after becoming president of the NH Bar, I celebrated my 50th birthday. With that milestone came the realization that I had been a practicing lawyer for half of my life. This revelation made me seriously think about what it means to be lawyer.
One thing about being a lawyer is that you are not in it alone. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, its takes an entire professional community to raise a lawyer. One of the ways our village is at work is through mentoring new attorneys, whether formally through the NHBA program, or informally through firms or personally.
Over the past nine years, the NHBA Mentor Program has helped form approximately 315 mentoring relationships. But the mentor pool is low, while the number of new attorneys looking for mentors continues to rise.
So, you might ask, why should I be a mentor? The answer is easy: Because you are needed! Each of us brings something special to the profession – personally, socially, geographically. We all have something worth sharing – ourselves. All you need to be a mentor is a willingness to share your experience and knowledge with others.
Along with becoming a professional comes the obligation to promote and enhance one’s chosen profession. What better way to do that than to guide new attorneys? Mentors are crucial in teaching new attorneys the professionalism and collegiality that makes practice here in New Hampshire so special. If we don’t show those coming up behind us the value of our ways and traditions, then who else is going to do it?
Mentoring does not have to be a huge time commitment. You can be there by phone or email to answer a question or bounce ideas around. You can take a young attorney to lunch to let her know that you are there for her if she needs a little help. You can meet regularly with your associate to discuss law practice management, procedure or even substantive law issues.
I have been a mentor through the NH Bar program, and I have also mentored attorneys informally. One of the attorneys I mentored also helps me in my solo practice. He provides coverage for court hearings and performs legal research and other tasks. My associate benefits from the learning experience that I am able to provide, and I am able to enhance my practice and better serve my clients. On the other hand, some attorneys have merely asked me the occasional question or needed a bit of advice.
Being a mentor is something all of us should strive to do at least once in our careers. It can be a richly rewarding experience. So, I encourage all of you to become part of the village we have created here in New Hampshire.