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Want to Retain Your Attorneys? Try Mentoring

Mentoring is an important element of life at companies like Xerox, IBM, KPMG, and Deloitte.  A recent article in the New York Post explains how these companies are using mentoring effectively to develop the careers of women and minorities, as well as to retain those employees.  Through a combination of affinity groups and networks, as well as formally structured and informal mentoring relationships, these business giants help employees understand better how their business operates and give them an opportunity to talk with their mentors about a range of topics including career advancement and work-life balance issues.  Mentoring is becoming increasingly popular as a way to retain employees.

But mentoring isn't just for technology and accounting powerhouses.  Law firms can benefit from mentoring, too.  Attorneys benefit from having personal relationships with more experienced lawyers in the firm.  Ari Kaplan, the author of The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development, says, "Most employees want two things: someone to emulate and someone to inspire them.  Seeing someone like you that has achieved a certain level of success can be truly inspiring."

Wendy Schwarz, a partner at Reed Smith, agrees and points out how the mentoring relationship can be especially valuable for women attorneys.  Schwarz serves as a mentor through the firm's Women's Career Advancement Initiative, and points out that it's important for female lawyers to see other women succeeding in the profession.  She explains, "One of the reasons women leave law firms in higher numbers than men is because they don't often see someone like them getting ahead."

Law firms invest a lot of resources in developing their lawyers.  It makes sense to retain those attorneys so the firm can reap a full return on their investment.  Following the example of major business enterprises, and other law firms like Reed Smith, that operate formal mentoring programs is one way to hold on to that legal talent.

By Steve Imparl, guest blogger

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