The following is adapted from The New Law Business Model by Ali Katz, New Law Business Model Founder and CEO—find it on Amazon.
Are you ready to step up to the next level of success in your law practice?
Who do you run ideas past when you don’t know if they’ll work? Have you ever had an innovative new approach to tackling a difficult court case and wished you’d had someone with more experience to hear your idea and give you honest feedback? Or, perhaps you’ve hit a roadblock in your career and you’ve needed advice on what to do next?
Most lawyers have faced these situations at some point. But, we lawyers can be stubborn. We’re skeptical of other people’s opinions—heck, we get paid to be—and we don’t always want to hear what other people think, and we often don’t believe others when we do listen to them.
This kind of do-it-yourself-at-all-costs mentality doesn’t always benefit us, though. In fact, you could really benefit from embracing a mentor. Mentors can help you fix problems. They can also inspire you to work harder and think bigger than you would on your own.
When I got over my stubbornness and embraced mentorship, I was able to go from being a lawyer working for someone else in a major law firm, to running my own practice and ultimately, building what I learned in my own practice into a multimillion-dollar business.
The Benefits of Mentorship
Working with someone who has already done what you want to do allows you to leverage their knowledge and experience so you don’t have to make up everything as you go along.
To benefit from mentoring, you must be a willing student—a person who’s open to learning from the wisdom of others. Then, you must find a teacher who’s already done what you want to do and is willing to take your hand and show you what they learned.
Benefitting from a mentor or mentorship program takes more than simply learning from their experience and teachings, though. Change requires more than that.
You can know (or be told) everything that’s necessary to succeed, and yet still fail. Why does that happen? How can you know everything there is to do and still not do it?
Failure Brings Personal Growth
The reason is that on the pathway to change, you will get stuck. You’ll be afraid to take the next step. But for change to happen, you have to be supported to fail, move forward, and not only accept the possibility of failing again, but even look forward to it.
Failure is where you grow, so it’s a critical part of your learning process. A mentor should help you to fail fast, learn the right lessons from the failure, and move forward toward success.
There is more to it than knowledge transfer. In the best mentoring situations, the mentorship you receive will keep you moving forward when you would otherwise quit.
Think of it in the context of working with a personal trainer. For example, if I’m left to my own devices, I would never work out. If I did manage to haul myself into the gym, I would never push my body to failure. On the other hand, when I work out with my personal trainer, I do the workout that I would never do on my own.
If my trainer tells me to do “mountain climbers” for a full minute, I do them—even if my mind and body are screaming at me to stop. If, after a minute, when I’m at the point of breakdown, my trainer says to keep going for another thirty seconds, I keep going.
After all, if the trainer thinks I can do it, maybe I can! Just when I’m reaching my point of failure, thinking, I can’t do one more second, he tacks on another ten seconds. That’s when my mind shifts from I can’t to I can, and I do. I push past the point of failure and that’s where the transformation of my body (and mind) happens.
It’s the same when you are building a business. You almost always find your transformation the moment everything falls into place, right when you are about to give up.
Mentorship Will Support Success in Your Law Practice
We see transformation a lot in our programs at my company, New Law Business Model, which helps lawyers transform their legal practices in order to maintain a better work-life balance while making money and serving their communities.
Take Amy, for example. She’d been with us for a few years as a Personal Family Lawyer, doing pretty well, seeing four to six new clients a month, but she wanted to go to the next level and hire a support team, so she could increase her income and work less.
Hiring is always scary. And just when Amy brought on her first team member, her client engagements started to tank. Up until then, she had been consistently engaging just about everyone she met with. Then, all of a sudden, right after taking on a commitment to hire a client services director (CSD) and pay payroll each month, half of the people she met with didn’t hire her. And then it got worse: the next three people she met with didn’t hire her, either.
Fortunately, Amy had a mentor, and this person helped Amy to see and understand what was happening. Without the mentoring she received, Amy would have almost certainly fired her client services director and slipped back into a lack of confidence and self-doubt about her ability to grow.
Instead, Amy’s mentor helped her to see that she had dropped parts of her business’s system when she brought her CSD on board. Rather than firing the CSD, Amy worked to retrain the CSD to improve their job performance. Shortly after that, Amy was back to engaging 100 percent of the clients she met with, and at an even higher average engagement fee than before. Now, with the support to serve her growing clientele, she can continue to grow.
This is where mentoring really happens: in the breakdown moments. A mentor helps you make the change you desire, even when you can’t see how it’s possible.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life
To initiate change, you must first change your mindset about what’s possible. You have to change the quality of your thinking and ideas. Being around people who are already doing what you want to do, who have already achieved that success, creates an environment conducive to change.
I wouldn’t have done anything if I hadn’t seen other people do it. That’s why one of my mantras throughout building my business has been, “If she can do it, I can do it.” Repeating this sentence to myself has never failed to change my mindset—my beliefs—on what is possible.
Work with a mentor who will encourage you to dream bigger than you ever have for yourself and support the actions you need to make big, necessary changes, and you’ll see results. If you continue to do things the same way you’ve always done, you will have the same results you’ve always had.
A mentor takes you beyond your own capacity—beyond your breaking point and through the failure—to success. Mentors help make change possible.
I hope you can see that if you can push through your lawyerly skepticism of other people’s ideas, you can open yourself up to mentorship and greater success than you may have had by trying to figure everything out on your own.
In most cases, you don’t have to do that because you can find someone who has successfully done what you’re looking to achieve in your own life. Change your mindset and get ready to ask for help. It will pay off in the end.
For more advice on finding a great mentor, you can find The New Law Business Model book on Amazon.