I have been fortunate enough to have great mentors over the years across a variety of legal-related fields, including a legislator, a lobbyist, judges, and other attorneys. They have guided me through decisions and hard times; they have trained me to be the attorney I am today. So while I’m at a point in my career where I still feel like I am constantly learning new things, I also have enough experience to have some perspective on practicing the law. In this sense, I am able to “pay it forward” as I meet and mentor new attorneys. These are a few of the tidbits shared with me that I always share with new attorneys — mixed with a few observations of my own:
- My first mentor attorney in private practice told me I would be committing malpractice on a near-daily basis as a new attorney. You would think this is harsh advice, but I actually found some comfort in the advice. As a Type-A perfectionist, I always try to do my best and want to do a good job, but law school does not necessarily teach us to be lawyers, so it was a daunting task starting my private practice. It gave me comfort that my bosses and colleagues knew I was inexperienced and that their expectations for their new hire were realistic.
- Sometimes “bad” advice is good advice. I have faced forks in the road in my career and the advice given to me at times seemed counter-intuitive in some ways, but I knew I was being guided in my best interests, protecting my reputation in the long term. I also give “bad” advice to new attorneys because I’m trying to help them look down the road and not be reactive to the immediate problem they are facing.
- Find a mentor who is at a stage in his/her career that is not that far from your own. While I have had mentors in the later stages of their careers, I typically try to have a mentor who has recently attained a goal that I’ve set for myself as a sounding board because it makes the goal feel more within my grasp. Someone who is leaps and bounds ahead of you certainly has valuable advice and insight, but the margin of experience can make goals feel daunting.
- A good mentor is one who understands your personality and values. I have received well-meaning advice over the years from judges and attorneys I trust, but they do not always give advice with my personality in mind. On the other hand, a couple of my mentors are really good at tailoring their advice for what they know about my personality. I really appreciate that! Advice is not one-size-fits-all.
- The more the merrier! If you have not picked up on this already, I lean on different people for different things. Cultivate mentorships with lots of people because we all bring different things to the table and different perspectives on issues we are facing.
Hopefully, my list will make you think about those who have helped you along the way and will make you think about lifting up the newer attorneys in your life!
LISA MOORE was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia. She graduated from Menchville High School and returned to Newport News when she accepted a clerkship with the Newport News Circuit Court. She also enjoys participating in community service through her past and current involvement in organizations such as the Junior League of Hampton Roads and the various bar organizations to which she belongs. Ms. Moore is a proud alumna of the University of Richmond. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond. As an undergraduate, she joined Alpha Phi and participated in WILL, a women’s leadership program, the AmeriCorps Bonner Leadership Program, and the Virginia Citizenship Institute. As a law student, she participated in the Women Law Students Association and The Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest. She has served on the board for both the Newport News Bar Association and the Greater Peninsula Women’s Bar Association. She has several legal certifications that allow her to perform court-appointed work. She enjoys having a general practice and strives to help her clients the best she is able.