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We all can relate to being the new employee.  It’s awkward, we’re never sure where we fit in and if you’re a lawyer, you might walk into your new office on that first day and within thirty seconds, be handed your first case.  Add overwhelming to those emotions.  A. Harrison Barnes, lawyer and founder of says if possible, other more experienced lawyers in the office might consider mentoring the new kid.  “It’s truly one of the kindest courtesies you can offer a new lawyer, especially if he’s also a recent law school grad”, says Barnes.

Too many times, mentoring is equated to having someone follow you around all day, always in your presence and even sometimes an annoying presence, but that’s not the case at all, says the founder.  In fact, mentoring can be nothing more than approaching the young attorney, introducing your self and saying, “I’m at extension 5900 if you need anything”.   Interviewing a new client?  Ask the new lawyer if she’d like to sit in.  It’s a great way for her to get an idea of how the intricacies work within the office and it’ll make her feel as though she’s being accepted.  Afterwards, it’s an ideal time for a quick Q&A as you make your way back to your respective offices.  Ask her what she thought, how she would approach a situation or anything else that allows her to open up a bit.

Another easy way to mentor, says A. Harrison Barnes, is to ask the new lawyer to lunch.  This is a relaxed setting away from the office and you can easily discern a lot in terms of what his legal passions are, where he hopes to be in a few years and what drew him to your law firm.  These are all good conversations for both of you – you never know when his appreciation for contract law will come in handy and he knows there’s someone he can turn to for everything from who he can ask to type a memo to where he files an expense report.

Mentoring is good too in that it builds confidence and makes it that much easier for the new associate to settle in.  He was hired for a reason and the sooner he’s able to shine, the better it is for the firm in general.  Who knows?  Your kindness extended just might be returned ten years from now when your own son comes on board – as the new kid on the block with his brand new law degree and in search of someone he can turn to for help with finding a secretary to write the brief.  “It’s about give and take”, says Barnes – especially in fast moving and competitive law firms.

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