When women in the legal profession meet to discuss matters of common interest and concern, there are recurring hot topics: developing business, improving communication skills and mentoring. We see these topics again and again when the conventional or accepted wisdom fails to evolve and the matter is still one of concern for a significant number of women in the profession. The insight is not new: if we keep doing the same things, we should expect the same result.

For mentoring, the traditional model calls for more experienced (read: older) attorneys who are partners to mentor less experienced attorneys who are associates within their own organizations. The pairing is generally established by a top-down assignment, often outside a direct reporting relationship. This means that there may be no obvious basis for rapport or understanding of the workplace situation for either party in the relationship, nor benefit to either in terms of a working relationship more in the nature of an apprenticeship or praeceptor model.

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