I like the ideas in this post. I think it is possible to build good mentoring relationships between associates and partners but the dialogue needs to be open and two way. Alas, it takes some courage for the legal heirarchy system to understand and embrace this. After all, that would mean relating to one another as people and not referring to associates as dispensable commodities.
Law firm partners and senior attorneys hold more than just a formal seniority over younger associates. Like a parent, at times, they may wish to be your friend. But, most often, their position of leadership implies a position of power.
“People with formal power can affect our fate in many ways—they can withhold critical resources, they can give us negative evaluations and hold us back from promotions, and they can even potentially fire us or have us fired,” explains James Detert, associate professor at the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management to the Harvard Business Review(HBR).
It’s why many employees fear their bosses. This fear stymies any truthful rapport from developing between two lawyers who are separated by a rigid professional hierarchy.
Thus, it can be hard, as a managing partner or attorney, to get feedback on your own performance, life at the firm, or case-specific matters.
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