How Do You Find a Good Mentor?

Many lawyers, many young lawyers will look around and say how do I find a mentor. Its rare you’re going to have somebody come to you and say “can I be your mentor”. And if they do, you probably don’t want that person as your mentor. It’s like “piece of candy little girl?” no I don’t think so. What I did is I went to each lawyer in my firm and say “will you go to lunch with me. Can I take you to lunch.” And I would generally do it on Fridays so it was a little more relaxed. And I had worked up a couple questions I wanted to ask them about trials or about the practice. If someone asked you to lunch about how you do things, they’re flattered. And I had one particular mentor, Joe, Joe York who was a real good trial lawyer. We had a practice on Fridays. And this was in the 80’s, so you got to hear how this is- we had a burger and a beer and we would talk about trials. and he loved it, I mean I loved it, I would actually take notes. And then that was in Denver. Practiced in Denver two years, I came out to Los Angeles and I did the same thing. I would go to different lawyers who I respected and say “can I take you to lunch and pick your brain about…” pick a topic. Jury selection, cross examination, and they would say “of course you can”. So I kind of picked my mentor by issue and then if somebody wants to step in and help you that you feel comfortable with then, fantastic. But you don’t necessarily have to do that and still get the same benefit. 

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Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.   

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