“There have been great mentors in American cinema — Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, Emilio Estevez’s hockey coach character in The Mighty Ducks. And just like how mentorship can be critical in learning to be a Jedi, a Karate Kid, or a left wing, the input and guidance from a more experienced lawyer or judge can be the key component in becoming a competent legal practitioner.
After 11 years of practicing law, I was both starting to increasingly physically resemble Yoda and also share his desire to help educate others. So this winter, I signed up to participate in the University of Washington School of Law’s mentorship program. I was an unremarkable student there a little over a decade ago, and this seemed like my chance to help current students excel by explaining all the things I did that should be avoided to be successful.
Mentorship is actually a mutually beneficial set-up. Law students get advice and free lunch, and lawyers get to talk about themselves (pretty much our favorite thing to do) and feel self-important by using the firm credit card. In my case, I used my mentoring authority to compel my mentees to take me to Finn MacCool’s, an Irish bar on University Way that is apparently still the law-student hangout, so that I could re-live my glory days and eat pizza. In exchange, I’ve given them tips on how not to take a law-school final exam, and also introduced them to a bunch of my lawyer friends at a happy hour where we basically talked them to death with stories about our own fraught law-school experiences.”
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