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A Reluctant Mentor
Somehow, through various organizations and
circumstances, I have become a “mentor” to young lawyers. There are many
levels on which this is disconcerting.
I have enough problems working
through my own life without giving advice
And it seems like yesterday that I was the
mentee, watching others closely to learn
their secrets of success.
But when I look around at the so-called
leaders of our state and nation, I guess I’m as
qualified as they are to give my two cents.
And I always appreciated that Ferris was
right: Life moves pretty fast. I’ve travelled
from Who’s Who to Who’s He, so I guess I
can slide on over to the mentor’s seat with
the qualification that my credentials are only
I find these young lawyers need the most
help in navigating outside of the law books.
So here are a few of the things they seem
to have appreciated.
You have to prioritize your own goals and
then take concrete action steps to achieve
them. Then re-evaluate and try again. I
learned quickly that I could fill up my day
responding to the things that
naturally came my way. There
were always calls to return and
papers to write and projects to complete. But days turn to years
before you know it and you discover that, although you have
had busy days, you have not moved closer to your own goals. If
you don’t prioritize your goals, nobody else will.
Make room in your day, every day, for things that make you
happy. I play sports virtually every day. I do it because it is fun.
And fun counts, especially when the rest of your day is practic-
ing law. All of my career people have told me that they don’t
have that much time. I make the time. There have been times
in my life when I bet I was busier than you, but I made the time.
It was important enough for me to schedule it and make it
happen—because it was fun.
You were an excellent student. Don’t stop learning. I’m not
talking about the law; in fact, I’m talking about everything but
the law. You were one of the best at learning of any student at
every school you attended. There have to be
things you still would like to know. For me,
right now, it’s classical music and dance and
art. For you it could
be anything, and
whatever it is will
make life (and you)
Don’t forget your
responsibility to make
this community bet-
ter. Very few people
have the skills to do
what you could do
for others. We didn’t
have a Boy’s and
Girl’s Club, so we
started one. We did-
n’t have a Children’s
Museum, so we built
one. The underprivi-
leged kids didn’t
have access to the
arts, so we started
a school for them.
You can do amazing
things and change
people’s lives forever,
including your own.
Finally, make sure to nurture your relationships with your friends and family. We
men are the worst at this. And it shows. Your
kids will grow up, with or without you. Your
friends will move on. It takes time and it
takes effort and it’s important. It’s more
important than whatever project is keeping
you late at the office tonight.
The practice of law is very demanding. If
there is a theme to this advice from a reluctant mentor, it is that you have to demand
that your life reflect your priorities.
Do what you want to do. Have fun.
Expand your horizons. Make a difference.
Love the ones close to you. Live. AZ AT
Make room in your
day, every day, for
things that make you
happy. Demand that
your life reflect your
Grant Woods is a trial lawyer in
Phoenix emphasizing complex litigation,
plaintiff’s personal injury, and
government relations. He was Arizona
Attorney General from 1991 to 1999.
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