Interview with Dr. Arin N. Reeves
That’s very interesting. How do you foster that kind of informal mentoring?
As unfair as it sounds, I do think there’s responsibility on both sides. . . . It’s unfair because oftentimes minority associates have to work a lot harder to foster those relationships. But I mentor a lot of young associates in firms, and that’s the number one thing that I push. You need to get out there and you need to figure out how to build relationships with these people and you have to do it. You’re not going to succeed unless these relationships are in place. From a law firm perspective, I think a big part of this is just to really make people aware of this. One question that I ask partners in a lot of my presentations and training sessions and coaching sessions is, I say, tell me the three associates that you’re closest to in the firm. Not the people that you work with the most. The people that you know the most about outside of the firm. People whose kids’ names you know…. Tell me the three associates that you know the most about, and I’ll tell you the three that’ll make partner at the firm. Because that’s what counts. If a partner tells me the three, and they’re . . . all white, I’ll say you are inadvertently making sure only your white associates succeed. Sometimes it’s as simple as the kindergarten rules: Speak to everybody. Minority associates notice when you come in to the office and you walk right past their office to the office of the white male associate next to them and say, “Hey, how was your weekend?”. . . As a partner you do have a responsibility to not just connect with the people that it’s easiest for you to connect with, but to connect with all the talent that you’ve invested in.