United States: Mentoring Circle Program: Relationships To Sustain Greater Diversity

Last Updated: September 6 2016
Article by Peter Wilson, Jr.

Mosaic: The Proskauer Diversity Newsletter - Summer 2016

Proskauer's innovative Diverse Lawyer Mentoring Circle Program (MCP) is revolutionizing the way junior-level diverse associates are developed within the Firm. Through the program, which was launched in late 2014, these associates are paired with designated partner mentors, who provide one-on-one support. Additionally, six to seven mentor-mentee pairs then form a "circle," which exposes mentees to different working approaches and insights in other parts of the Firm. The resulting relationships are transformative for mentees and mentors alike, and activities encompass the rigors of the workplace, after-work social interaction and even community engagement.

While participation in MCP is voluntary, almost all junior-level diverse associates have chosen to be part of the program. Since the program's launch, 56 junior associates across the New York, Boston and LA offices have paired with partner mentors, forming six separate mentoring circles. Each circle has one or more captains who spearhead the circle's activity and engagement.

Acceleration of a great working relationship

New York partner Chip Parsons first became aware of his future mentee, associate Tiffany Kwa, in 2015 when he was part of a team reviewing potential hires related to a practice that was coming to Proskauer from another firm. "Tiffany's academic credentials were outstanding, and she'd gotten excellent feedback on her performance as a summer intern – a hard worker, intellectually curious, sense of humor," Chip says. "She seemed as if she'd be a great fit for Proskauer. So, she got my vote."

Later, after the MCP connected the two, the mentorship activities they took part in – such as informal meetings for coffee or lunch – became a foundation for working together on projects in the Corporate Department, where they both work. "Very soon, Chip was able to get me involved in the private equity space, which is broadening my experience beyond hedge funds," Tiffany says, adding that she feels fortunate to have been paired with Chip, who "encourages you to ask questions and bring issues to the forefront. He tries to put himself in your shoes."

Chip says, "The MCP introduced me to a very talented and funny individual, accelerating a working relationship that otherwise would have taken much longer to establish. At the end of the day, I was lucky to be selected as her mentor." 

Mentoring Circle Program Highlights from 2015

Gaining insights into career strategies

In April 2015, MCP mentors including Dan Ganitsky, Glen Lim, Carlos Martinez and Jim Poindexter served as panelists for our first Diverse Partner Panel discussion. Corporate associate Mike Gallagher moderated an open and honest conversation about successful career strategies.

Learning tips for gaining partner support

In June 2015, Werten Bellamy of Stakeholders Inc. facilitated a poignant and insightful program for the joint MCP mentor and mentee groups, discussing effective ways to inspire partners to invest in mentees' career and the importance of "Mentoring Moments."

Rallying to serve those less fortunate

In July and August 2015, two groups of MCP participants in New York, along with members of the Firm's Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity & Inclusion teams, volunteered with The Bowery Mission, an organization focused on serving the homeless and those desperately in need of balanced meals. On two separate evenings, Proskauer volunteers served dinner to nearly 250 homeless men, women and children.

In August 2015, MCP members in Los Angeles volunteered at the SOVA West Food Pantry, sorting two-and-a-half human-size boxes of donated food. SOVA is a program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, which works to alleviate hunger and poverty through food distribution and a range of supportive services.

Coming together for good times

In November 2015, MCP participants in New York, Boston and Los Angeles bonded over an evening of cooking at culinary institutes in their respective cities. Participants spent the evening creating a four-course meal and enjoying the great food that they created.

Mentoring Circle Program: Relationships to Sustain Greater Diversity

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