I wish that I had learned earlier in my career how important it is to have a mentor. I remember my first career crunch when I was in private practice, and looking back I realise now that I really needed to talk to someone. And that someone needed to be neutral, a good listener, non-judgemental and willing to suggest ideas without any agenda.
Instead I called 3 recruitment consultants.
It took me far too long to understand that they are not careers advisers and their interests were not aligned with mine.
So I think that it is good to have developed mentoring relationships with at least 2 people – and the earlier the better, although it’s never too late. The first conversation should be more of a “chemistry” meeting for both, at which expectations are set and a “contract” can be created. I find that Skype calls can be just as good as face-to-face after that. One risk is that after one meeting the relationship fizzles out, so it’s best to schedule a series of calls a few months apart for the first year – after that contact can be irregular.
The other thing is that you don’t need to know the mentor that well – in fact, maybe friends and family are not the best types of mentors anyway.
Anyway, I really enjoy being a mentor of other in-house lawyers, and have had mentees from a couple of organised schemes (MOSAIC and Lexis-Nexis – links below). I also mentor students from the University of Law and colleagues from my company mentoring scheme. And I have mentors that I am grateful to have – I also have a coach and coach others, but that’s quite a different.