Last month, I wrote about steps you can take to find and cultivate a mentor who has years of experience above you. That is just one type of mentor.
Another type, a peer mentor, offers a different type of mentorship. While a mentor who’s older than you and has more years of legal experience can show you the path to your career goals, a peer mentor can offer social and emotional support, a “trauma bond” if you will, as you both learn the world contracts together.
In my first year in-house, I have been so lucky to have gained a number of peer mentors. In this article, I discuss the benefits of having a peer mentor as an in-house attorney or contracts professional and how to find one.
Benefits of Having a Peer Mentor
Here’s how having a peer mentor can improve your contracting skills:
- Antidote to “imposter syndrome”: We’ve all been there, feeling like our skills do not match up to our job description. Having a peer mentor with whom you can discuss your challenges and share contracts “war stories” will inevitably lead to those classic “Wow, you too?” moments. You’ll feel less of that “imposter syndrome” if you have a peer mentor.
- Share best practices / what you’ve learned: Of course, having a peer mentor means you have someone with whom you can share best practices and lessons learned. For instance, if you share with your peer mentor that you are preparing to implement a new contracts process, they can either share what worked well for them or, if they haven’t gone through that process before, act as a sounding board.
- Share templates: As someone new to contracts, especially if you are the only attorney or paralegal in your organization, you will inevitably encounter situations where you don’t have a template for an agreement you need. Looking for one online can be daunting and perhaps risky as you may not be sure of the drafting quality, so receiving a template from your peer mentor can provide a trustworthy, efficient source. Or they can point you in the right direction!
- Discuss unique clauses and issues you’ve seen: You never know what clauses you will encounter in your redlining journey, especially as someone new to contracts. You also never know what issues you may encounter as someone new to contracts, such as the sometimes difficult relationship between legal and sales. Having a peer mentor can help you work through these weird clauses and issues.
- Job networking: Your best friend in finding your next dream job are those who keep their eyes and ears open for you. A peer mentor can be a great asset here. For instance, perhaps they saw a job description or spoke to someone about a role that does not fit their requirements, but they think it might fit yours. And vice versa. Oftentimes your next dream role is found by word of mouth, and a peer mentor is a great asset to do that.
How to Find a Peer Mentor
Below are a few pointers to find that peer mentor to improve your contracting skills:
- Search LinkedIn and blogs for content creators: I found two of my peer mentors by actually reaching out to them after I had read one of their LinkedIn or other blog posts. You would be so surprised how willing people are to meet with you!
- Lean on your friends from school: Your friends from law school, paralegal school, or other contracts classes are often friends for life. Since you already have a social connection with these individuals, cultivating a peer mentorship with them should be easier than striking up a similar relationship with a stranger.
- Industry groups and networking: Industry groups, such as TechGC, HowToContract, and others, have many people who are situated similarly to you in your career and who would be happy to become peer mentors with you. If you live in Seattle, Contract Nerds is hosting an in-person networking mixer on September 8th.
- Join the new world of legal memes: Engaging the universe of memes on LinkedIn and TikTok is a great way to meet peers. This new phenomenon just goes to show you how powerful humor can be to relate to other human beings.
In the next blog post, I will discuss how to hone your negotiation skills as a person new to contracts! Tune in to more articles in the New to Contracts? series by Jack Terschluse—Corporate Counsel and Head of Procurement at Balto—exclusively here on the Contract Nerds blog.