perkins coie mentoringDid you know that more than 100 legal organizations across Illinois use the Commission on Professionalism’s Lawyer-to-Lawyer Mentoring Curriculum to support the professional development of their attorneys?

This includes big and small law firms, bar associations, government offices, court districts, corporations, and law schools.

We spoke to Ingrid Galindo, Professional Development Coordinator, and Veronica Neely, Attorney Development Specialist, at Perkins Coie LLP, about the significance of mentoring at their firm.

Perkins Coie is a large international law firm with an office in Chicago. It provides corporate, commercial litigation, intellectual property, and regulatory legal advice to a broad range of clients. The firm has partnered with the Commission on its mentoring program.

 1. Why is mentoring important for both new and more experienced lawyers?

Perkins Coie values and encourages mentoring because relationships matter. Mentoring provides an opportunity for new lawyers to learn from more experienced lawyers willing to share their expertise and wisdom.

Access to experienced practitioners is especially important for first-generation lawyers and lawyers from historically underrepresented groups. Mentors can be key to understanding how to navigate a specific organization and the practice of law more generally.

And, although the primary focus is on the mentee’s development, mentors and mentees are learning from each other. This type of connection and lifelong learning enhances career satisfaction for all involved.

2. What types of activities do mentoring pairs participate in at Perkins Coie?

Mentoring pairs are encouraged to connect through regular meetings and activities, like attending an event, taking a walk, or working on a pro bono matter together. Lunch and coffee are always popular, and the firm supports in-person mentoring connections through meal reimbursements.

Conversation topics range from sharing backgrounds, goals, and resources to identifying specific opportunities within the firm or community.

Many of our local offices offer group mentoring opportunities like our “Rainstorm” series sponsored by the firm’s local Attorney Development Committees. The series is an opportunity for junior lawyers to learn about client development efforts, ask questions, and connect with experienced partners who share their career stories and guidance.

3. What are the benefits you’ve seen in mentors and mentees?

While benefits to mentees are most often cited, mentoring is mutually beneficial and leads to better career satisfaction on both sides.

Mentors help mentees feel seen and heard. They foster a sense of belonging and ensure mentees have someone who cares about their professional development and growth. By introducing colleagues, mentors help mentees build relationships and access opportunities. Mentors provide critical guidance to mentees proactively and in the moment.

For most mentors, the opportunity to pay it forward and help someone shape their career is the most common benefit. Also, whether they realize it or not, mentoring enhances the mentor’s coaching and inclusive leadership skills.

4. How has the mentoring program benefited Perkins Coie?

The mentoring program benefits the firm on many levels. At the most macro level, the mentoring program aligns with our “one firm” vision that cultivates collaboration and supports continued learning throughout attorneys’ careers. By fostering engagement, belonging, and career satisfaction, it supports retention and morale.

At the office and team level, the program encourages intergenerational work relationships that promote knowledge sharing, innovation, and community. Deeper and broader connections across the firm further collaboration and excellent client service.

Finally, at the individual level, the program advances skill and professional identity development that strengthens overall performance.

How to participate in mentoring

The Commission’s unique one-year mentoring curriculum blends practical teaching in practicing law with a focus on building a reputation based on integrity and ethics, all of which are critical for a thriving career.

Visit our website to see if your employer, law school, or bar association uses our curriculum in their mentoring program and for information on how to apply. Separately, if your organization is interested in partnering with the Commission on a mentoring program, please apply here.

Mentors and mentees who complete the one-year program earn 6 hours of professional responsibility CLE credit, including 1 hour of diversity and inclusion CLE and 1 hour of mental health and substance abuse CLE.

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