Faces of Mentoring - Stuart F. Cubbon, Esq.

Stuart F. CubbonI'm not sure the term “mentoring” was popular when I became a lawyer. I went straight from law school into a well established personal injury practice in which my father was my boss. We didn't have a formal new lawyer training program, but the older lawyers definitely took me under their wing.  They were always willing to answer my millions and millions of questions — how do I do this? How will that judge treat me? Is this court rule for real?  Can you give me an example of an appellant's brief? I was able to jump into some fairly sophisticated cases because I had people to help me. I was still nervous most of the time, but at least I always had somewhere to turn for advice.

Although the rules were unwritten, our firm had a strong policy of encouraging bar involvement. Having people point the way helped me get involved with various bar associations and professional groups. It was easy to go to bar functions when I had people taking me. I don't think I would have realized the opportunities for personal and professional development without the gentle guidance I've had.

Perhaps my best mentoring help came from attorneys who would discuss settlement negotiations with me. Nowhere in the law books does it say how to evaluate a case for settlement — how much should I ask for? What documentation should I provide? How will the other side respond? Although negotiation may be an inexact science, I don't know how I could have learned it on my own.

Over the years, I have very seldom had an attorney turn down my request for help on any matter — it's not a secret that our profession loves to give advice! Likewise, I would never pass on the opportunity to help out a younger attorney who asks. It's rewarding, indeed, to be able to pay back some of the favors I've received in my career. A formal mentoring program will set just this type of exchange in place — and that's a great thing for our profession!