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I have been receiving a lot of e-mail from my readers lately asking me for advice on issues ranging from how to voice disappointment with their bonuses to how to voice disappointment with the response to the disappointment they voiced. I always reply with the same answer: Share it with your mentor. Of course, this generally results in a deluge of questions about mentoring, so here’s a primer on the process at most firms. What is a mentor? A mentor is a person who takes the time to listen to your concerns and helps you work through any problems that you may have both at work and elsewhere. It is kind of like having a work mom, just without the love and birthday parties. Mentors also assist in setting milestones, creating a career-development plan and enhancing communication between you and the more senior players at the firm. The ideal candidate would be a rainmaker with whom you could have lunch once a month or so, share personal development ideas and get to know. When you wake up from that fantasy, though, you’ll be sitting across the table from a sarcastic (though amiable) character like me dreaming of writing a column of your own. But I digress. Who is qualified to be a mentor? Anyone is qualified; however, the most effective mentors are people who have influence over your career progression and/or supervise your work in some way. Some unlucky attorneys without the proper support try to mentor themselves, but frankly that is just too weird and even forbidden in some places. A few firms have established mentorship-training programs and billing numbers for time spent on the process, but you probably don’t work at one of these firms. This is what a typical mentoring relationship sounds like: Mentee to Mentor (eagerly): “Hi, how are you?” (Seeing her mentor walking down the hall.) Mentor to Mentee (annoyed): “What?” (Carrying what appear to be heavy files stuffed with documents and not recognizing the mentee.) Mentee to Mentor (confused): “How are you?” (Carrying a blank legal pad and wearing a hopeful look on her face.) Mentor to Mentee (more annoyed): “Oh, I don’t know? Are you busy?” (Shifting the Redweld to the other hand.) Mentee to Mentor (more confused): “No. I mean, yes. Well, actually, I was wondering if I could talk to you about some things at work.” (A tear welling up in her eye.) Mentor to Mentee (about to pop a cork): “Is this a joke?” Mentee to Mentor (shocked, saddened): “A joke? No, we haven’t spoken since the mentorship orientation and, well, I just wanted to connect and seek out your guidance.” Mentor to Mentee (laughing hysterically): “The mentorsh– (hearty laugh). You’re not serious.” (Laughter tears well up.) “Oh, yeah, let’s connect. Sure, call my secretary, menteeeee.” (Walking away, the mentor’s voice fades, but the laughter echoes through the halls.) What is the mentee’s role? The role of the mentee is to complain about the unrealistic milestones and career-development plan set by their mentor. Mentees are also responsible for feigning interest in the whole process despite detached mentors (see incredibly realistic and witty dialogue above). Am I required to mentor someone? Remember, this not mandatory like CLE or an insecurity complex. If, however, you see an opportunity to mentor someone who needs some guidance, take it. There’s nothing more satisfying than telling your mentor that you’re a mentor. Is there a secret mentoring handshake? Hey, stupid — save the dumb questions for your mentor. Better yet, consider self-mentoring. The Disassociate is an anonymous, irreverent look at the humorous side of life as a law firm associate. He can be reached at [email protected]

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