Thompson Coburn’s Women’s Initiative last month launched its annual associate mentoring program, a yearlong program that connects associates and counsel with partner mentors. More than 50 mentor-mentee pairs from all of the firm’s offices are participating in this year’s program, which kicked off with a presentation from Dr. Rik Nemanick from St. Louis-based The Leadership Effect. Nemanick detailed how program participants can build a strong foundation for their mentorship relationship and keep those connections robust long after the formal program ends.
“It’s never easy starting at a new firm,” said Mary Bonacorsi, a business litigation partner who chairs the Total Commitment® Women’s Initiative. “But those early days of associateship are a crucial time for young attorneys because they start forming the connections that will help them develop as attorneys and successfully grow within the culture of the firm. That’s why we put a special focus on mentorship.”
A committee of 11 partners pored over the list of eligible mentees and worked together to select the best mentor for each associate. They based each pairing on the associate’s mentorship priorities, such as practice area experience, business development skills, integration into firm activities, work/life balance and career advancement.
“The group is really focused on getting this right,” said Cherie Bock, a banking and commercial finance partner who led the selection committee. “It’s imperative that we build the pairs to ensure the partner mentor is well-suited to give the associate guidance in the areas that he or she finds most important.”
Thompson Coburn’s Women’s Initiative started the mentorship program in 2008, when it was first geared toward female associates and counsel. Women’s Initiative Steering Committee member Lori Jones was key to that early effort and guided the program through its first four years of operation. From its inception, the firm’s top leadership backed the mentorship program. Many of those leaders, including the firm chairman Tom Minogue, participate in the program every year.