The Health Law Litigation and Woman Advocate Committees of the American Bar Association held a roundtable discussion on January 11, 2016 on the topic of mentoring women. The panel consisted of three pairs of mentors, Wendy Weiss and Jennifer Klem from Navigant Consulting, Inc.; Laura Colombell Marshall and Amy Bowen from Hunton & Williams LLP; and Christy Tosh Crider and Caldwell Collins from Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC.
Some key takeaways from the discussion were as follows:
- A good mentee is prepared for meetings with her mentor, is open-minded about suggestions a mentor makes and always has a positive attitude.
- A good mentor recognizes a mentee’s strengths and weaknesses, is available and considers mentoring a priority, and is always honest with his or her mentee.
- Best practices for mentoring include helping to spot opportunities in which your mentee can shine, pointing out your mentee’s successes and nominating your mentee for internal awards.
- In seeking out a mentor, a potential mentee should be proactive. Attend conferences and events that will allow you to meet inspirational role models and leaders in your field.
- There are many advantages to the less traditional “co-mentor relationship,” including networking opportunities that result from such a relationship and the opportunity to learn from each other and exchange ideas. (“Co-mentoring” being where both parties take turns mentoring one another.)
- For female associates with children, some tips on working with senior male professionals who may not necessarily have an understanding of your personal situation include:
- If you produce good work, you will have more credibility when asking for flexibility;
- Set clear boundaries for when you can and cannot work; and
- Understand when you need to stretch your boundaries for exceptional circumstances.