As the dwindling market leads to fewer opportunities for graduating law students, many of them may be considering starting their own firm straight out of the gate. Doing this can have its advantages, including avoiding the loss of a job due to downsizing, and the opportunity to compete with smaller firms, rather than trying to go up against the “big boys.” However, anyone who watches TV, reads billboards, or otherwise comes in contact with any type of broadcast media knows that there is such a thing as too many attorneys.
Having a legal mentor can help keep law students on steady ground, especially those who are brave enough to try to start their own firm. A mentor will share his or her own experiences and will also offer valuable advice.
A mentor can help the law student expand upon relationships formed through intern and externships, which can help a lot with future job opportunities; not to mention that the mentor will have contacts that can help those just getting started. He or she can also show the law student how vital establishing these relationships will be to starting a solo practice.
Large firms can provide more opportunities for career advancement; however, it’s unlikely that a recent law school graduate will get the opportunity to work within a large firm. Utilizing smaller firms, however, does provide more opportunity to actually work on cases, even if it is only in a research or second chair capacity.
The mentor who uses the resources of smaller firms provides advantages for both the mentee and the smaller firms themselves. As mentioned earlier, the mentee has a better opportunity to “get his feet wet” while the smaller firms may enjoy participating in the mentee’s efforts to get started in the legal field. The relationship may turn out to be mutually beneficial to both parties, as the mentee will have a chance to prove that he is capable of performing legal duties, and the smaller firms won’t have to compete with larger ones for experienced, available lawyers when the time comes to implement staff additions.
Having a legal mentor is not only invaluable in terms of the law and its real world application in given specialties but also in the mechanics of running a firm and employing marketing strategies. These strategies can include:
- establishing and building up client bases;
- determining the number of employees needed to operate a small firm;
- computing and obtaining the necessary operating capital needed.
All the law school education in the world cannot teach everything; the complexity of learning the law and applying it to real-world cases and situations continues even after graduation. Add to that the necessity of proving to others that the law student, soon to be a fledgling attorney, has the expertise to take on legal cases and begin serving clients. Who wouldn’t need an experienced mentor to help with all of that?
A person who decides to offer his services as a mentor to a recent graduate can help him in all the areas mentioned; but that isn’t where the assistance ends. Along with the practical assistance, a mentor can also provide emotional support during the graduate’s first days as a true practicing attorney.
A mentor/mentee relationship may last a lifetime. Both law students in their final year of law school and recent graduates can find it extremely beneficial to take on a mentor. Not only will it help build an address book full of valuable contacts, it helps one learn the law field inside and out.