As a business law attorney, I often advise clients of the importance of putting together their own business team. A business team consists of a good lawyer, accountant, insurance provider and banker (and for my construction clients, a good bonding company/surety).
All are necessary for the operation of a successful business. Having every team member working on the company’s behalf will assist in successfully navigating hurdles in the life of any business.
As with businesses, everyone should also have their own team to help support and guide them through perilous times (as well as enjoy the good times together).
In addition to having an accountant, insurance provider and banker, a young lawyer will also need other individuals or organizations as part of their own personal team.
Whether you are a solo or a part of Biglaw, every attorney needs a sponsor. A sponsor acts as more than simply a mentor, but someone that proactively champions your interests. A sponsor advocates on your behalf and goes out of their way to support your interest and goals.
You will also need a person (or persons) whom you can call a “peer adviser.” He or she is the one you turn to when you have questions or decisions that require discussion and thought. I have been lucky because I have had a law school colleague whose judgment I wholeheartedly trust. Not only does he act as a cheerleader for my successes, he also acts as a sounding board for potential issues and an adviser for critical life decisions.
Find someone you know will truthfully tell you when your actions or decisions were right (or wrong) and someone to call you out when you are not being rational. Everyone attorney needs someone to pull them out of the weeds and get them to focus.
Finally, get a mentee. Even if you recently passed the bar and are in your first year of practice, having a mentee helps you understand how far along you have come. A new lawyer can be a mentor for a law student or a potential law student.
I serve as a mentor for a first-year law student at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and for a recent practitioner through the Court of Appeals. Meeting with my mentees serves as a reminder of why I first decided to attend law school, what I have learned since obtaining my juris doctor and of how important each phase of the life of a lawyer is in building one’s career. It is also a rewarding experience.
Finding the right team may take time, but it is important to start the process early on.