CEO's Perspective

With a little help from your friends

Timothy McGeeby Timothy E. McGee

I recently attended two award ceremonies where BC lawyers were recognized for their outstanding achievement and service to others. Art Vertlieb, QC and Gerry McHale, QC were honoured as the 2009 recipients of the CBA’s Georges A. Goyer, QC Memorial Award and Kathryn Berge, QC and Brenda Edwards received this year’s Women Lawyers Forum awards.

In accepting their awards, each of the recipients paid tribute to individuals and organizations that had helped them along the way; a mentor who helped set priorities, a boss who made room for mistakes, an organization that provided a forum to explore ideas, an opposing counsel who refused to take advantage of a situation, and family and friends who were there through thick and thin. While each honoree had a distinct story to tell, one message was common to all: whatever mistakes I have made are mine, and whatever success I have I share with others.

From my perspective, these stories highlight not only the impressive modesty of the award winners, but also the value of teamwork in everything we do. I believe we are part of a team the moment we connect with someone else with a common purpose. Examples of teamwork abound in our profession, including the relationship between lawyer and client, articling student and principal, and partner and associate. Others may be less obvious, such as the CLE volunteer and the course participants, the legal assistant and the IT help desk, the Law Society practice advisor and an enquiring member, the LAP volunteer and a troubled lawyer, or the babysitter who comes on short notice so you can stay late to close an important transaction or prepare for court in the morning.

The legal profession is known as a helping profession. Most often this is meant in the context of lawyers helping their clients. But as these recent award winners demonstrate, professional achievement and personal success often means drawing on support and guidance from a wide range of sources. Or, to put it another way, to know and appreciate the value of teamwork.

mentoringMentoring is a form of teamwork, and it is emerging as one of the most effective and yet most underutilized tools for the personal and professional development of lawyers around the world. Mentoring and its close relative, coaching, are well ingrained and widely utilized in the business world with considerable success. I believe greater awareness and first-hand experience among lawyers of the benefits of mentoring will spawn a generation of new lawyers who view this form of teamwork as an indispensable tool in pursuing a successful career.

The Law Society is actively involved in raising the profile of mentoring in our profession and encouraging its use. Effective January 1, 2010 the Society will recognize mentoring for Continuing Professional Development credit, and we will soon be publishing guidelines and suggestions for effective mentoring. In conjunction with the CBA, BC Branch we are also launching an online mentoring registry that will help potential mentors and mentees connect to each other.

The Law Society is actively involved in raising the profile of mentoring in our profession and encouraging its use. Effective January 1, 2010 the Society will recognize mentoring for Continuing Professional Development credit, and we will soon be publishing guidelines and suggestions for effective mentoring. In conjunction with the CBA, BC Branch we are also launching an online mentoring registry that will help potential mentors and mentees connect to each other.

For more information on this topic, see new Rule 3-18.31 in the enclosed Member’s Manual amendment package, or download the “Report of the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee – Proposed Program for Accredited Mentoring” (PDF) in the Publications & Forms / Reports section of the Law Society’s website at lawsociety.bc.ca. And we’re always interested in your feedback; feel free to contact Alan Treleaven, Director, Education & Practice, at 604-605-5354 or atreleaven@lsbc.org.