New Research Study on Mentoring Relationships

The NALP Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of an important and timely new research study on age-diverse mentoring relationships within law firms. The NALP Foundation is partnering with the University of Maryland, College Park and George Mason University to undertake this research in order to gain additional insight into mentoring relationships and the role that age disparity can play in the successes or challenges of the relationship.

Mentoring programs and mentoring relationships can have a significant influence on employee performance, organizational satisfaction, and employee commitment to his/her organization. However, not all mentoring relationships are created equal, and bad mentoring experiences not only fail to benefit both parties, but they can also lead to negative outcomes for their organizations. The goal of this project is to examine the unique needs, assumptions, obstacles, and benefits associated with different types of formal mentoring relationships and to test the utility of short, easy-to-implement exercises in improving mentoring experiences.

We are seeking pairs of mentors and mentees who are in formal mentoring relationships, meaning that they were either assigned to a mentor/mentee or that there is some formalized component of their mentoring relationship outlined by the organization (e.g., a certain number of required meetings, guidelines for mentors/mentees). Participants in the study will fill out two surveys at two different times points (six weeks apart), assessing their attitudes toward their mentor/mentee and their relationship. Some participants will be randomly selected to participate in a short written exercise (~5 minutes) aimed at improving their mentoring relationship. We will be able to assess the utility of these written exercises by comparing results to a subset of participants who will not complete any written exercises (i.e., a control group).

Participating firms will receive a summary of results that will include trends in the cumulative statistics based on firm size. They will also receive valuable information on short, easy-to-implement exercises that have the potential to improve mentoring outcomes and could be easily incorporated into an existing mentoring program. Mentors and mentees will both benefit from reflecting on their mentoring relationships and developing a deeper understanding of their mentor/mentee and their mentoring relationship. In addition to surveying law firm associates, we are also surveying a group of medical residents in formal mentoring relationships. We will be able to provide a summary of results that compares mentoring outcomes and experiences across these two industries/fields.
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