Mentoring is Noble

We were motivated by our mentors to go an extra mile.
― Lailah Gifty Akita

Who do you most admire or who would you want to be more like? Most likely, that person is mentoring someone. Their mentees may go by other names like student or precept, disciple or upasika. Even so, a more experienced person is teaching a less experienced one.

Not too long into my practice, I stumbled into a client who found himself at the receiving end of some complex real estate litigation. I got all the facts I could, interviewed witnesses and read recent cases on each issue in their entirety. Instead of clarity, the more I worked the more confused I got. All in, there were 14 lawyers representing other parties and me. As you might expect, there were some popular legal theories among them, but each attorney had his or her own slightly different opinion which, once voiced, fogged the air with confusion.

There were several theories that furthered my client’s best interest and the facts supported more than one theory. Even so, work as I might, I couldn’t figure out which theory was best and, perhaps more importantly, which theory would survive the scrutiny of an appellate court. Finally, I started calling my friends for help and someone suggested I call Doug Corretti. I didn’t know at the time that Mr. Corretti was regarded as one of Alabama’s top real estate lawyers who started his practice the year I was born.

Mentors Communicate

Mr. Coretti answered his phone. No secretary. No voice mail. I introduced myself and started into my convoluted fact scenario. About three sentences in, Mr. Corretti cut me off and started asking pointed questions. In about five questions, he gave me a succinct legal theory and the citations for several cases to read. He ended the call but first encouraged me to call back if I needed to talk about it more.

He Met Me Where I Was

One of my favorite quotes came out of me calling my attorney and real estate friends before I found Mr. Corretti. On about my fifth call, one of my attorney buddies said, “Look, I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you!” Of course, that stung at the time, but I get it. He had his own work — he could only spend so much time on me.

I’d like to say that I’m really smart and I immediately understood what Mr. Corretti told me. I can’t. I researched the cases he gave me, read every word, outlined facts, drafted narratives, and on and on. I had to call two more times before I finally got it. Each time I called he answered the phone, he remembered me, my case and did his best to inch me down the road to understanding.

He Freely Shared

The information that Mr. Corretti shared with me took a lot of work for him to know. The information itself was valuable — the understanding of the information was extremely valuable. Best as I can tell, he shared everything he had. Mr. Corretti didn’t hold anything back. He certainly could have charged me but he didn’t. He gave me everything he had and he enjoyed doing it.


Everybody benefited from Mr. Corretti’s investment in me. Certainly my clients did, but I did too. And the benefit wasn’t just from the information I got. More importantly, Mr. Corretti made me feel like I was part of his professional community. A community that was better because he was in it.

You don’t have to be a foremost authority like Mr. Corretti to be a mentor. All you have to do is know a little bit more than someone else. When you find yourself in that position ask yourself:

  1. Could others benefit from what I know if I connected enough to share it with them?
  2. Rather than criticize, can I offer creative approaches to help others understand?
  3. How much can I freely give?1

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  1.  ©2015 Brandon L. Blankenship. All rights reserved.
About The Author

Brandon Blankenship

Brandon L. Blankenship is a continuing legal education presenter and business educator. He is the author of Unmasking Hour. He writes weekly posts on the legal industry and is a contributor to the Nobility Academy. He and his wife Donnalee live on their hobby farm south of Birmingham, Alabama.