As anyone involved in running one understands, law firms cannot survive — let alone prosper — as generation succeeds generation unless seniors accept the responsibility of mentoring their juniors. While critical to the long-term prospects of any law firm, mentoring requires individual lawyers to invest much time and effort for little immediate return.

Although most firms can boast of a few lawyers who, by aptitude and predilection, make superb natural mentors, at the institutional level very few firms have effective mentoring programs. In part, this is because of the tendency to confuse mentoring with training. Mentoring programs often emphasize discrete technical skills with mentors providing little more than on-the-job training. Not surprisingly, such mentoring programs do little to nurture successive generations of lawyers equipped to not only equal but surpass the achievements of their forebears.

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