How to Be a Good Mentor to Summer Associates: 3 Easy Tips

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on May 07, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We recently went over everything a summer associate would need to know about getting the job done. This post looks at things from the other perspective -- that of a young associate already a full-time employee of the firm.

Most summer associates are assigned a junior associate who is essentially that summer associate's "big sister" or "big brother" at the firm. Whether you are assigned this position or not, you may still find yourself in the position of mentor.

If you do, here are three tips for being a great mentor to summer associates.

1. Be Available

We get it, you have a billable hours quota you need to reach, but when your mentee comes calling, make time for her. BigLaw can seem like a cold, harsh world without someone to lean on -- at least at first.

Take some time out each day to check in with your summer associate mentee and make sure that all is well. If you are really worried about your hours, check with your recruiting team, usually there are a set number of hours you can bill "recruitment."

2. Be Genuine

Hopefully, you volunteered for the position of mentor and you're not being forced into the role. Either way, try to genuinely care about how your summer associate mentee is doing. 

The summer associate is a newbie, but she can read people. If you'd rather be doing something other than talking to her, she will sense it. If you're having a hard time being genuine, just think back to when you were a summer associate and hopefully that will get you motivated.

3. Be Exemplary

One of the best ways to be a good mentor, is to be a great associate. Lead by example; it's one of the best ways to teach. Whether it's the way you carry yourself, or showing the summer associate some office memoranda you have written as an example, the same qualities that make you a great associate are the ones that will make you a great mentor as well.

Whether you're a novice mentor or not, one of the best ways to be a great mentor is to reflect on your own experiences. What did you find helpful in your mentors? Try to emulate those behaviors -- it's time for you to fill the big shoes.

Editor's Note, July 21, 2015: This post was first published in May 2014. It has since been updated.

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