President’s Message: August/September 2015

Be an Everyday Mentor

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PCBA President Nathan Overberg

Richard (“Dick”) Smith took me to lunch last week. The reason for his visit? He wanted to congratulate me on becoming President of the PCBA and to encourage me to stay involved after I transition on to the ISBA Board of Governors. Of course, he regaled me with stories from his days as President of both the PCBA (‘80-’81) and ISBA (’87-’88), most of which he assured me were true. But more importantly, he was being something that I think is so important to anyone’s professional development – he was being an everyday mentor.

I know there are plenty of opportunities to be involved in organized mentoring programs; indeed, programs sponsored by the law schools, the ISBA YLD, and local Inns of Court come to mind. These are wonderful programs and I encourage you to participate. But if you can’t seem to find the time or are hesitant to commit to an established program, then try to make it a priority to be an everyday mentor.

What does it mean to be an everyday mentor in our profession? It means that you take the new lawyer next door along with you to that simple hearing so she has an opportunity to meet the judge. It means you take the time to answer questions from a new lawyer, even if you are pressed for time. It means you encourage a colleague to join a non-profit board you are on. It means you send an unsolicited reference letter in support of a colleague’s judicial application. It means you set a positive example in how you treat one another and the court.

Indeed, there are a myriad of ways to be an everyday mentor. One easy way is to do what Dick did last week – encourage your colleagues to get involved in the PCBA. Bring them to one of our monthly lunches or social events. Encourage them to run for the Board. Empower them to spend some time working on a committee. Work with them on a VLP case. In sum, let the PCBA be a mechanism by which you can be an effective everyday mentor.

One more story. When the PCBA Board of Directors participated in a strategic retreat last year, the facilitator asked how each of us first became involved with the organization. I answered truthfully – I had no idea. Luckily, our Executive Director Carol Burdette was able to fill in the blank. Approximately ten years ago, Carol had called Liz Kennedy, a prior PCBA Board member from our firm, and asked if Liz had any recommendations for future Board members. Liz mentioned me, and … well… the rest is history. Thank you to Liz and Dick for being everyday mentors. And thanks to all of you out there who are doing the same.

If you have a story about how an everyday mentor positively impacted your professional development, feel free to share that story on PCBA’s Facebook page.

Nathan can be reached at: 515-243-7611 or