It is such a privilege to be on the receiving end of helpful mentorship advice. However, the relationship should not stop there. Mentorship is a two-way street between mentor and mentee, and it is also important that women support each other by paying forward the advice we receive by our mentors to our own mentees. It is important that women start building these habits early, which is partly why the WLMP is structured the way it is – with articling students mentoring third years, third years mentoring second years and second years mentoring first years.
Sometimes paying it forward means being willing to be the go-to person when people want answers for the recruitment process after you have gone through it, or when they need advice on how to study for the bar exam and you have received great study strategies you can pass along. Recently, Juliet Knapton, a litigator at Connolly Obagi, gave a presentation to WLMP members on how to leverage mentorship in law firms.
Among other advice, she advised that we “trumpet” each other. For example, approach cocktail parties with a friend, remind each other of recent and relevant successes, and then proceed to introduce each other to people by “trumpeting” these successes. If you know that a colleague has succeeded in something and perhaps is not getting the recognition they deserve, then figure out a way to make it known, she advised. As important as it is for women to ask for the recognition they deserve, there may be situations where it would be more appropriate for a colleague to be the presenter of that recognition.
Paying it forward can take many forms, and it is critical that women support each other in this way in order to help each other continue to succeed in whatever area of law they want to practice. It does not take a lot – when I was in first year, a third year advised me to highlight my readings with specific colours picked out for the facts, issues, ratios and analysis. In second year, I told a first year. I continue to find this strategy very helpful to focus my readings, and this year, that person told me that the advice was passed on to another first year. It can be the little pieces of advice that can be just as impactful as the big pieces, but the important thing is to start practicing it now so we can receive and then pass along the big ones later.
Women’s Legal Mentorship Program