So you want to be a mentor?

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice board

At my law school, after the dreadful 1L year, 2Ls are encouraged to sign up for a mentor program for incoming 1Ls. It’s a completely volunteer based program and if you sign up, you’re matched together based on a similar undergrad, hometown, home state, etc. I signed up last week and a few days ago received my mentee!

I didn’t engage with my mentor at all last year, in fact, I never responded to her initial first contact email. In the email she introduced herself as somebody else, which I later found out was her mentor. I took that as a sign that she didn’t really care about the program or helping me. I mean, come on, not only did she copy and paste her mentors initial contact email to her and email it to me as her own, but she couldn’t even remember to put her own name in the intro paragraph?

I decided that I would be a much more attentive mentor to my assigned mentee. Not only did I create my own intro email, but I even introduced myself as myself! How amazing, right? At first I was nervous that he wouldn’t answer, but he did and he seems very polite and eager to learn more tips about law school. I gave him tons of tips (my reply email was 9 paragraphs), but then I started thinking, “is this the only thing that a mentor does, give hints and tips?” To find the answer to that question, I turned to my trusty sidekick, google to help me find the answer.

According to google, a mentor is “an experienced and trusted advisor,” and a mentee is “a person who is advised, trained, or counseled by a mentor.” I dug a little deeper and found five traits that I think make a good mentor.

  1. Takes a genuine interest in the mentee’s life and goals.
  2. Exhibits a positive and respectful attitude towards the mentee.
  3. Willing to help share secrets, advice, and tips about how the mentee can succeed.
  4. Active listening skills.
  5. Being available for a mentee’s questions or concerns.

Has anybody acted as a mentor, or had a mentor before? What traits do you think made them a good or bad mentor?

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7 thoughts on “So you want to be a mentor?

  1. @somethinginlawschool, I completely agree with you regarding the comment about sticking it out for the whole year. I think back to my 1L year and I’m sure that it would have been so beneficial to have a mentor that actually cared about the mentee and not just about putting it on a resume, or using it as a tool to talk about during interviews. Thank you! So far we’ve emailed back and forth a few times and we’re trying to arrange a time to meet for drinks before school starts. I know you’ll be a great mentor, too!

    @Susandlandrum, That’s a great idea regarding the calendar reminders! I would have never thought of doing something so simple. I know the first semester can be extremely overwhelming and difficult for a 1L so I want to make sure that my mentee knows that I’m there, but I don’t want to come across as pushy or demanding of their time. I’m sure that, as you said, a simple text or email to let them know I’m available will be the most beneficial option for us in those times.

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    1. You’re going to do great on the LSAT and a law school will accept you! Just be sure that you’re studying properly and going over the wrong answers, as opposed to skipping over the harder sections to the easier ones. When are you taking the LSAT and when would you like to apply to law school?

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      1. I’ll be taking it this September – one more month left! And I plan to apply this application cycle. I’m just worried my September test won’t go as planned and I have to take the December one, leaving me less time to focus solely on crafting my PS. Yes, I’m going over the wrong answers thoroughly! Trying not to let my memory guide me to the right answer hehe.

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  2. What a great topic! I think you have already taken the right approach to this. Mentorships only work if both people are engaged in the process. If you volunteer as a mentor, I recommend setting reminders in your calendar so that you don’t get too busy and forget to keep reaching out. It doesn’t always have to be something big, either–a text or email can sometimes be enough to reopen the dialogue.

    Mentorships in law school can be invaluable–as an upper-level student, you know exactly what the 1Ls are going through. If you pay attention to what is going on in the law school calendar, you will know those times when they are going to be particularly stressed and need support.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was JUST thinking about this!! I had a mentor through my school’s student bar association, and two official mentors through a national bar association. I’m not sure how or why they matched me with the SBA one, he’s so chill and I’m so “OMG what am I supposed to do??”
    My two bar association mentors started out amazing…and slowly faded into what I feel like was nothing. It actually makes me feel like they didn’t really care and the way I see it is – if you sign up to be a mentor, you really should care all the way through the process. I checked in monthly via email and asked to meet for coffee and both were so busy, they never really got back to me. I have other unofficial mentors that have been more helpful and I know they’re busy but it’s just one of those things where if you show you care and give that person a little bit of priority, it makes such a difference!
    I know you’ll be an amazing mentor!! ❤

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