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A Thank You (Of Sorts) To My Mentors

Steve Kruzel

When I was asked to write a blog about mentoring, I thought it would be a simple task. I’ve had many great mentors in my education and my professional career, so I assumed I could knock this post out in about 30 minutes. But as I sat down to write it (for the second time) I was forced to recognize that it was more challenging than I anticipated. Each time I started a draft, I was compelled to write a thank you note to all of the mentors who helped me through my education and as I have started my professional career. That sort of post, however, would be of no interest to any one besides me and those individuals I chose to thank (not that I would otherwise be garnering high-levels of interest).

So instead of thanking certain individuals for their mentoring and advice — I’ve described a few of the things my mentors have given (and continue to give) me for which I am most thankful. Of course, this list does not cover everything I appreciate, but I’ve tried to cover the high points.

  • Feedback: Nothing at this stage in my career is more important to me than feedback — good or bad. I recognize that now is my time to learn and to improve on initial mistakes so I do not continue to make them. I also realize, now more than ever, that feedback takes time and that feedback is not billable to a client — so the feedback I receive does not go unappreciated.
  • Advice On Work-Life Balance: I am not alone in feeling like I have something to prove as a young lawyer. And the inclination for me is to assume I can do this by billing as much as possible, by always being available, and by never taking a vacation. Of course, this is a terrible inclination and I need to be told it is a terrible inclination. It is so valuable to hear that work-life balance is important, that burn out is real, and that it is important to unplug at times — particularly from someone who has succeeded in the legal profession and not from just my mom (nothing against any of my mom’s advice).
  • Their Time: The legal profession is built around time. There is time that needs to be spent billing, time to do pro bono work, time to establish ourselves in the community in which we practice, and, of course, time to spend with our families and friends. Time to mentor and help a young attorney develop his or her skills does not need to be on an attorney’s list of things to do. I am grateful to have met some great attorneys who have made mentoring a priority for which they make time.

I was instructed to end this blog with a thought-provoking question. I don’t know if this constitutes “thought-provoking,” but here is a question: How often do you thank your mentors? For me, the answer is not enough. It is easy to take for granted the time and energy our mentors spend helping us develop and succeed. As you start the new year, make it a resolution to consistently thank your mentors for all they do to help you develop and succeed. It is one of mine.