Associates Mentoring Senior Partners?
It seems odd, but it’s happening all over the country in large companies like GE and Ogilvy: junior associates are becoming mentors of senior partners to help them learn the basics of social media and the “new” way to generate revenue. The senior partners and upper management are eating up the advice as if they were the students – which, in many cases, they are. The associates have a valuable place in these companies and this value is resulting in a lower turn-over rate and, undoubtedly, higher job satisfaction for everyone involved.

Reverse mentoring (as this trend is known) can be a wonderful experience for associates and senior-level executives. Each party learns so much and begins to appreciate the other’s position within the company. Although some may nay-say, it’s possible that this trend may continue in the law firm environment.

As has been the case for a couple of years, the social media and internet portions of law firm revenue generation has been incredibly important. Everyone, associates and partners, alike, are getting involved. However, some of the more experienced partners are having a hard time understanding exactly how the game is played. This is a perfect opportunity for associates to show value and volunteer to reverse mentor the partners.

“I’ve seen some of the most amazing business connections happen through LinkedIn,” said Delia Swan, principal at Swan Legal Search. “It’s clear that social media is quickly becoming a very lucrative marketing tool used by law firms. Partners are beginning to realize this, and they want help from some of the younger associates. It’s a great way for associates to really add value to the firm in addition to their regular work.”

Since 2008, it’s been a difficult road for many associates. Layoffs have occurred in record numbers, and the number of new associate openings has been slow. Things are beginning to look up now, according to Swan, but there is always room to show how invaluable an associate is to the firm through his or her ability to generate revenue and understand the workings of the law firm business.

“Whenever associates go above and beyond the call of regular duty, partners take notice,” said Swan. “Partners want to keep associates who understand how important revenue generation is to the firm and want to help bring in business. Showing partners how to bring in more business and effectively use social media to do that are two ways that associates can help their careers and add value to the firm.”
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