There are people who come into our life and change it for the better. People whose mere presence makes us better, more. They guide us, inspire us, and provide us with growth opportunities. Their influence in our lives is immeasurable. They are our role models and mentors. Given their significance, this year WLALA has featured monthly newsletter stories about the importance of mentoring and being mentored.
In my life, I have been fortunate to have several people who took an interest in my professional and personal development. The first was Bob Black, a partner at the law firm where I started my career. Bob was patient and gave of his time freely. In retrospect, I basically lived in his office, going over my cases. He never once complained or hurried me out of his office. He taught me most of what I know about the practice of law and to this day I repeat his words of wisdom to younger attorneys. My personal favorite is “assume everything you write will become an exhibit.” Bob never made me feel bad about how many questions I asked or how much of his time I took up. He constantly gave me “stretch” opportunities. Many of my professional firsts were under his tutelage – my first mediation, first motion for summary judgement, first trial, and my first appellate brief. And when Bob retired while we had an appeal pending before the First District, it was Bob who convinced the client to let me – a fourth year attorney – argue an appeal worth millions. Bob’s support did not stop when he retired. He continued to offer personal and professional advice until his passing in 2011.