Whew! It's been a busy and wildly fulfilling couple of months. I finished up teaching another semester at Georgetown University and I enjoyed getting to know the students in my class. I've also been spending time with the summer intensive students. These students jam a year long program into 10 weeks of full-time classes. About half of them relocate from outside the DC area to attend the program. After the 10 weeks, they must do a one month internship at a service provider or law firm. Since some of the summer intensive students took the eDiscovery/Litigation Support/Legal Project Management track during the last 5 weeks of their program, I was interested in getting to know them.
As it turns out, I offered to sponsor an internship for one of the students. Elizabeth has been hanging out at my office for three weeks now. She sits right next to me with her own computer and she has been an absolute joy to work with. Elizabeth is a fine young woman who is motivated, driven, intelligent and she has a great sense of humor. She gets my sarcasm and as it turns out, we have a lot in common. She knows what she wants and she is working very hard to accomplish her goals.
Mentoring takes a lot of attention, patience and focus. It also requires relinquishing control and allowing the newbie to drive at their own pace. As luck would have it, I am very busy at work right now, so Elizabeth was able to get exposure to a variety of litigation support tasks, she learned how to multi-task and she was able to observe my meetings with attorneys and the management of two document reviews.
I have been sharing knowledge 8 to 10 hours a day for three weeks and Elizabeth has progressed from “being nervous and unsure of her skills and understanding” to doing the tasks of a litigation support professional under my guidance with confidence and without looking at her notes anymore. She is simply amazing and I am very proud of her. I can't wait to see where her career takes her and I look forward to staying in touch with her for years to come.
There is something magical about being a part of the process of empowering a newbie. Some of my friends joke with me about why I would want to encourage anyone to join this industry, but I wouldn't trade it for anything and I am excited about bringing in new candidates. I think we need them.
Spending time with Elizabeth and a few other students has reminded me what it is like to train a newbie on the job. Watching them try to figure out the answers to my questions is fun. When I see the light bulb go off and I hear them gasp or say “ohhhh — now I get it”, it is very rewarding. Another funny thing that happened is that one of the students was assigned to another law firm and specifically to a close friend of mine who I had the pleasure of mentoring many years ago when I hired her for my team. How cool is that?
I would like to take a moment to thank a friend of mine who has responded to every one of my requests to assist with mentoring the Georgetown students. She is a good human in addition to being an excellent “human resource mind”. She reads people very well and it is evident that she truly cares. I have heard feedback from several students that she is the first recruiter-type they've met with that actually asked them “what do you want to do?” Imagine that! She spends at least an hour with each person going over their career history and their current goals. She shares her knowledge and she offers them excellent advice that they can put into action immediately. Her name is Janice James and she currently works at a firm called Legal E. I am indebted to Janice for helping me with my mission to help litigation support newbies.
I would also like to thank David Carns and Shimmy Messing who also responded to my requests for assistance. I am thankful to have such a close circle of true friends that are willing to give of themselves and who believe in mentoring others.