Mentorships can be very impactful in the lives of attorneys, leading to better lawyering and stronger law firms. As a profession, there is so much we can do to develop and encourage mentorships, and the October Texas Bar Journal examines this subject in detail. Rocky Dhir welcomes article authors Nikki Chargois-Allen, Denise Paul, and Regan Boyce to discuss their thoughts on mentor-mentee relationships and setting up mentoring programs for young lawyers.
For real-life perspectives from a mentor-mentee pair, check out Nikki and Denise’s article: In Their Own Words: How To Be a Good Mentor and A Good Mentee.
And, for more on ways to create mentoring programs, read Regan’s article: Set For Success: How To Set Up a Firm Mentoring Program for Young Attorneys
Nikki Chargois-Allen is a partner with the law firm of Davidson, Troilo, Ream & Garza in San Antonio.
Denise Paul is regional legal counsel to Jungheinrich, one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial trucks.
Regan Boyce is a partner in Chamblee Ryan in Dallas.
Special thanks to our
Rocky Dhir: We’d like to thank Clio for their generous sponsorship of this podcast.
Female: Welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast, your monthly source for conversations and curated content to improve your law practice with your host, Rocky Dhir.
Rocky Dhir: Hi, and welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast. If you’ve ever ordered from the Starbucks drive-thru, there is this phenomenon that sometimes happens. You pull up to the window to get your order and the barista tells you the car in front of you just paid for your order. It’s part of a chain. This is where that little voice inside my head reminds me, this is America, the land of the free, so just take the drinks and run. But then I remember my first mentor in the law, the late Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer. He was a Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. I had the honor of clerking for him and I can hear his voice now. Wow, you should have ordered me something too.
But don’t worry, Judge Buchmeyer laughed most heartily at the jokes made it his expense. The truth is though that he believes in giving back and paying forward and his teachings remain with me to this day, nearly 14 years since his passing. I always pay for the car behind me at the Starbucks drive-thru, although I secretly hope they didn’t order too much. Okay, that’s too much information. I will always be grateful for Judge Buchmeyer. Any decision I make, he is there next to me and I tried to make the choices that would make him proud. I can attest to the fact that mentors make all the difference.
In the October 2023 issue of the Texas Bar Journal, you will see two compelling articles about mentorship; ‘In Their Own Words’, that’s the title of the article, gives you a real life perspective from a mentor-mentee pair, Nikki Chargois-Allen, the mentor and Denise Paul, the mentee. Once you read their article, you might be inspired to start a mentorship practice at your own firm or in your own legal department. In that case, you’ll want to check out Regan Boyce’s article, ‘Set for Success’.
We’re lucky to have all three authors with us today rather than extol their detailed bios. Let me just assure you they’re all exceedingly accomplished attorneys. They’re all bar leaders and each with variegated backgrounds. I’d just as soon jumped right into our topic because we’ve got a lot to cover. So, Nikki, Denise and Regan, welcome to the podcast.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Hi Rocky.
Denise Paul: Thank you.
Regan Boyce: Hi, thank you for having us.
Rocky Dhir: Absolutely. This is going to be a fun topic. I’m going to read a quote here. “When you make it to a position higher than where you started, reach back and pull someone up.” Nikki you wrote those words in your article calling it a motto that guided your upbringing. Who said that to you?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: My mother. She’s a teacher and she was always the one that lifted the kids up that no one wanted. So she tells me, reminds me every day that God gifted me with a brain and talent, and my job is to reach back and pull someone else up.
Rocky Dhir: And so is mentorship something in your view that because, in your article you talk about it as kind of like what your mother told you, it’s something, it’s almost like a moral duty to pull other people forward. Is this something that you believe is entirely altruistic or is there a benefit to the mentor in taking on a mentorship relationship?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: I think there’s always the benefit of just having the feeling of doing something good, of making the world better, and the sense of accomplishment when you either impart knowledge or impart skills or help someone else in that area that they maybe need help in, whether it’s in your law practice or at home or in your community. It’s everybody’s duty to look out for the person next to them or behind them and help them make a way where maybe they didn’t know how to do it before.
Rocky Dhir: In your experiences being a mentor helped you become a better lawyer in some way.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: It has helped me to understand the perspective of others. So, today, I got three phone calls from three different young associates. Three-year to one-year attorneys. And their questions all centered on the same topic strangely, but they were all from very different perspectives and different issues and different questions. It helps me to understand that even though I am coming from having experience and know what to do, that the questions that they asked means that they all see it a little bit differently and that helps me to understand what I’m getting my point across to a jury, or to opposing counsel, or to the young attorneys in my office that I need to be very cognizant of their perspective on the issues.
Rocky Dhir: And when you do that, how do you get a sense of their perspective? Is it just them telling you or is there a level of emotional intelligence involved? I mean how do you discern what their perspective might be?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: I think there’s always a give and take. So you’re first listening to their questions and then asking questions back. And so through that give and take of question and answer, you start to discern what their real issues are. For example, one of the youngest associates today, it was not grasping even though he had the basic question, he was not grasping what the real issue was. So then it took a little bit longer to help him to understand what the real issue is and what he needs to be looking for. Whereas with another associate, same topic from a different perspective, their issue was more technical. And so asking questions and going back and forth help me to understand that they actually understood the concept and was more procedural question than having for me to then explain why we were doing this process.
Rocky Dhir: Well, if it’s any comfort to these associates, I never understand the issue either even after all these years, still don’t get it right.
So Regan, your articles seems to come at the mentorship from a different perspective. If you’ll forgive me, it seems to highlight the benefits of mentorship in that it can foster better practices in a firm.
Regan Boyce: I really truly believe that mentorship does improve the overall practice of both the mentor and the mentee. As Nikki was saying, perspective is important and I think that I have seen what I call the generational perspective gap, and I believe that mentorship is one of the greatest tools that we can use to sort of bridge that gap and bring a better understanding in older generations of how new lawyers are looking at the practice of law, and in mentoring them, help bring them along to learn the solid foundation that they need. But also to look at things differently and getting a different perspective from a younger generation. I have found to be helpful and I think it makes us all better practitioners if we can incorporate and look at and understand a perspective other than our own.
Rocky Dhir: When you talk about the generational differences, do you find that the younger lawyers, or the newer lawyers I should say, in your firm are open to hearing from us older lawyers, how we did things and why we do things? Or is it more a matter of us trying to learn how they do things so that we can bridge a gap with them. Does it go both ways or is it really more one way than the other?
Regan Boyce: A receptive mentee will want to understand why the older generation does things and why there are certain practices in place. I’m happy to say that most of the young lawyers that I speak with when I explain to them sort of from my perspective why we do things a certain way or why I think these are best practices, I do see that they are receptive to maybe looking at an issue or looking at a practice differently than they would have. Occasionally, I come across a younger generational lawyer who is very set in their ways and not as open to other perspectives. And I think that that’s a great deficit to them and I think it’s going to limit them in becoming a better lawyer if they’re not willing to learn from more experienced attorneys and at least take into consideration advice that’s being given to them and shared with them.
Rocky Dhir: I’m going to ask you the contrapositive to what I asked Nikki. I hope that’s the right word, contrapositive. I’ve always wanted to use it because it just sounds cool and it makes you sound smart. It’s a great word. I’m probably using it incorrectly and you all can correct me. But the contrapositive, you know, what role do you think altruism plays, Regan, in mentorship versus attaining best practices. So, Nikki’s perspective was it’s the right thing to do, and your perspective is it makes us better lawyers and makes for a stronger firm. What role does altruism play?
Regan Boyce: I think it does and there are some self-satisfaction in knowing that if I’ve got lawyers who are willing to learn and take on advice and follow good practices, that’s a little bit selfish in saying I’m going to have a better quality lawyer working with me, but I think that that also allows me to take pride in seeing somebody achieve greater success, because ultimately I know that I got here because I had some great mentors in my life and if I can pay that forward to the next generation of lawyers coming up behind me, I want to do that and I think it’s important to do that. So, is it selfish to say I want better lawyers practicing with me, maybe, but I also take great satisfaction in seeing another lawyer achieve great success. There’s plenty of success to go around, I don’t have to be selfish and hold it all to myself. So I’m happy to share my learning lessons and my experience if that will help someone to also achieve a greater level of success in life.
Rocky Dhir: Your article and your perspective talks a lot about other lawyers in your firm. But what if you’re a solo practitioner, you know, what role do you think mentorship plays there and how can you use that to be a better lawyer?
Regan Boyce: You know, I think it’s just as important for a solo practitioner to identify other lawyers in practice either in their area of law or other areas of law that can provide that sort of mentorship to them.
And if you are a solo practitioner, I would strongly encourage you to find yourself a mentor. And mentees can seek out mentors. It doesn’t have to be just the mentor looking to offer to mentor a mentee. I think mentees have to be proactive in seeking a mentor.
Rocky Dhir: That was a tongue twister. A mentor doesn’t have to be a mentee to seek a mentor. Then the mentor can seek a mentee. We’re going to use this for allocation lessons. Now, you’re going to take a quick break and when we come back, Denise, we’re going to be talking to you as the mentee in these articles about how to be a good mentee and how to make the most of that relationship. So we’re going to hear from one of our sponsors and we’re going to be back in just a few seconds.
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Rocky Dhir: And guys, we are back. We’re talking about mentorship and we’re having a great conversation with our two mentors from the article. Who we didn’t hear from is the mentee. And I’ve saved her for now because here’s an important question. So, Denise, you’ve given a fascinating perspective as someone who directly benefited from a mentorship relationship, specifically with Nikki. But one thing we didn’t read in the article though, is the mentee’s duty to keep that relationship alive. You and Nikki have had a 20-year relationship, nearly 20, maybe more, of being mentor and mentee. What steps did you take as a mentee to keep that relationship going all those years?
Denise Paul: I think we started off in like an official program where it was through high school, but even after high school, I was proactive and as she was as well with reaching out, checking in every now and then, making sure, okay, are you still on track? Are you still achieving your goals? Do you need help with anything? Do you have any questions? And even when she was in an opportunity to give me kind of olive branch to include me in things like that. She would extend those opportunities like, “Hey, I think Denise would be a great fit for this. Let me call her,” and vice versa. As I progress in life, I include her on things that’s going on.
So I think it’s with any kind of networking almost, you have to be proactive, you have to reach out. You have to maintain those relationships. Even if it’s not so much where you may need as much mentoring because you’re growing yourself in your career and maybe you’re now in a position to reach out and mentor someone, but you still have to keep that networking relationship.
Rocky Dhir: Did you find that your contemporaries who are going through the same programs at the same time, were they as proactive? Because I can tell you I’ve had mentees that I’ve told them, “Here’s my info. Get in touch with me when you need me.” And then I never hear from them again. Have you been this proactive with all mentors, or was there something special about Nikki that that relationship just kind of grew more organically?
Denise Paul: That’s a great question, Rocky. And of course, Nikki is special, so, that goes without saying. But no, I’ve not been this proactive with all of my mentoring relationships. I remember in law school signing up for these programs, and maybe I had coffee once or twice with them. Just like with any other kind of service that you’re looking for, you don’t always click with the person or the provider, right? And so you have to kind of explore and see if that relationship works. But I think for us, maybe because I was so young when we started out the relationship, it’s just kind of — as I grew, Nikki was just like a part of my family, almost. And so maybe the younger you start, the easier it is to stay in contact with the person.
But I don’t believe some of my other contemporaries took the same kind of standpoint, because I think back to the people that I went to high school with, and I don’t believe many of them are still in contact with their mentors. So I think we did develop a very special relationship, and due to both of our consistency and making sure we put forth the effort.
Rocky Dhir: Well, and Nikki, what about you? Have you been this involved with other mentees or was this kind of a unicorn in mentorship relationships?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: No, I definitely believe that Denise and our relationship is special. And I think I would have to give credit to the program. The fact that they found Denise, who was an 8th grader who wanted to be a lawyer, and they found her a lawyer, and then Denise continuing on that path and achieving those goals. I was in a direct position to help her at every single step, whether it was going to high school, her classes to take, her getting the right grades, applying to college, going to college, her major, then taking LSAT and going to law school. Every single step was kind of mirrored in the path that I had already taken.
So it was easy to be hands on with other mentor type programs. It’s been for a certain period of time, and maybe after that period of time, they go on their separate way and you go on your separate way. And I’ve had one other relationship that has kept in contact over the years, but not as just, “Hello, this is how I’m doing.” Kind of an advice type of relationship. So I think the fact that our career goals were similar helped us to be on a path to have a very long-term relationship.
Rocky Dhir: So, Regan, I found your perspective fascinating because it really is talking about how to be a stronger firm by using mentorship, which is a very useful and practical perspective. How do you transition that mentorship relationship once a lawyer leaves your firm? Do you still maintain it or at that point, in your view, would it change because they’re no longer under your wing, so to speak?
Regan Boyce: I don’t think that you have to stop being a mentor if somebody diverges and decides that they’re going to go down a different path than perhaps staying in firm with you. Certainly, having somebody at the firm that wants to seek out a mentor, it’s easier. But I have had mentors throughout my career, some that at the same firm that I worked at and some that I never worked with, but because a relationship was able to be formed and a mentorship developed out of that, it really just becomes necessary that you stay in touch. Both participants in the mentorship relationship have to proactively seek each other out, check on each other. And I think that if the mentorship bond really does form, where you go in life doesn’t determine that a mentorship has to end because you’re no longer working at the same firm.
I would say that it really is up to the mentee to make sure that they stay in touch with the mentor. And I think that the mentor, if they stay in touch with the mentee, that relationship can continue beyond the physical boundaries of just a law firm. I’ve had lawyers that come work for me that I’ve taken an interest in, and they still check in with me and see every now and then. It may not be as frequent of contact as perhaps what Nikki and Denise have had over their long 20-year relationship, but it really just depends on if your bond is formed and you want to keep the relationship going, then I don’t think the four walls of the law firm have to stop that relationship from continuing.
Rocky Dhir: So, here’s a question for the group. Let’s say you start out as mentor and mentee, kind of like how Nikki and Denise did, but then the mentor hires the mentee, right? So, Regan, you’re already starting these relationships once they’re in your firm. And then, Nikki, your relationship with Denise was — there was no business being transacted. You guys were completely at arm’s length. But let’s say now the mentor hires the mentee. Do you think that changes the relationship? Is there like a conflict of interest now that there’s this employer-employee relationship that’s morphed from the mentorship relationship? So I want to get your guys’ perspective on that. We can start with anybody who wants to jump in.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Personally, I wouldn’t think that there is a conflicted interest except that you might take more of an interest in that mentee than with other maybe associates in the firm. I think it would probably strengthen the open-door policy that mentee would be willing to walk in and ask you any point in time, you know, your advice. Whereas with a mentee that’s in the firm that you didn’t have that pre-existing relationship, they’re always wondering what the perception is when you walk in with the question. So I think that there will probably be more of a growth or opportunity for growth with the mentee that you’ve already known. And so I wouldn’t think that it would be off bounds, so to speak, but I do think you might have to balance the interest of helping all the mentees grow or all the young lawyers grow versus just the one that you have that long-term relationship with.
Regan Boyce: And I would add I think that if you hire a mentee and you show that there is a special mentorship relationship, I think that that would encourage the rest of the members of the firm to look to form similar mentor-mentee relationships lead by example. Show the benefit to other lawyers who maybe never thought about mentoring another attorney or never seeking a mentor, show them the benefits of what a close working relationship between a mentor-mentee can be and lead by example.
Rocky Dhir: Denise, what do you think, would this change the relationship?
Denise Paul: No, I think as a mentee in that position, it would make me want to work even harder, right? I would not want to let my mentor down. I want to make sure I did the best job I could do to show that all their mentoring over these years has actually paid off, right? But also, I think even a supervisor in any context, there’s a level of mentoring that you should be doing anyway, right? You should be guiding this person. Not only just making sure they’re checking the box doing their job but provide that guidance. If you’re a good supervisor, you want to guide them anyway. So there’s some level of mentoring that should occur anyway in that aspect
Rocky Dhir: We are going to take another quick break and when we come back, actually Denise, I want to ask you a question about transitioning from being a mentee to now being a mentor. Stay tuned and we’re going to be back in just a few. Okay, we are back and we’ve been talking a lot about mentorship and the evolving role of a mentor and a mentee. One thing we have not talked about though is what happens when you transition from being a mentee to now being a mentor? So Denise, you’ve made that transition, right? You’re now actively a mentor in, it looks like several different organizations am I right?
Denise Paul: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: So at what point — that was great, that was like a deposition moment. Was that a yes, is that a yes? You need to say it verbally. We can’t get it on the record. Okay. So at what point did you finally have that moment where you said “Oh, I know enough to maybe Mentor somebody” because I’ll tell you I’ve been doing this almost 30 years and I still am not at that point. I’m like, there’s no way I can give anything of value to anyone. How did you come to that realization?
Denise Paul: I would have to be honest. I’m a little bit like you Rocky. I feel the same way. I never really felt like “Hey, I can now mentor someone.” It’s just when someone comes starts coming to you for that advice and they start seeking you out and then you start to realize maybe I do know a little bit of something and I can help someone along the way. And so some of it’s been through formal relationships. But a lot of it has been through the informal like people reaching out saying “hey, I see that you were doing this and that, can you teach me how to get there?” or you know, “I have an interest in this, can you give me any advice?” And so that’s what made me feel like hey, maybe I have somewhat reached this point. People are actually asking me questions and they think I have the right answers.
Rocky Dhir: Suckers, they think I know something, what’s wrong with people. This is what’s wrong with our country. Okay, but here’s a question maybe for every one. Commonality, the whole idea of commonality in a mentorship relationship, how important is that? I’m going to give you some illustrations. We hear of women lawyers mentoring other women lawyers or Asian lawyers mentoring other Asian lawyers. There’s examples like these that we can get or people in a certain practice area mentoring one another. Does that commonality help or do you think there could be healthy relationships between people of entirely different backgrounds? You know, how important is commonality in that relationship? So maybe Denise, let’s maybe start with you because it’d be interesting to hear your perspective as the mentee. How important was commonality between you and Nikki when you were formulating that relationship?
Denise Paul: Well I think expressly as a young adult or even a teenager, that is important. We all know how hard it is to reach teenagers and so the more you have in common, the easier it is to just try to kick start that relationship. But even now, I think it’s great as an initial starter, right? But I don’t think it has to be that. I have another mentor and if he was standing here next to me, I know you all can’t see me, but if he was standing next to me you would think we had zero in common. But we actually have a great relationship and he’s been very helpful in my career, particularly from the in-house law perspective. So I think it’s a good to start a relationship to have those common things, but it doesn’t have to be the sustaining factor for the relationship.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Well, there’s so many different areas that you can find common ground. So maybe it’s just the part of Texas that you came from or your hobby or your practice or what size law firm, and like Denise said in-house counsel versus defense law firm or whatever it may be.
There are so many different ways that you can find common ground with someone that a good mentor aims to find that common ground and build on it.
Regan Boyce: I would absolutely agree. I think that you have to have some foundation of commonality even if it’s just a common desire to be a certain practitioner or practice in a certain way. I think that that is the beginning of a mentorship relationship. But I think also, that there is room for a mentor-mentee to learn from each other’s differences and their different strengths. And so you don’t want a cookie cutter mentor per se but you want to see as a mentee, I would say you want to look for a potential mentor or somebody who’s achieved the same sort of success in the path that you want to achieve success in, because that’s how they’re going to be able to help you is by sharing what they took — what steps they took to get through and become successful in the way that they did. So I think that there’s got to be some sort of foundational commonality. But you also want to look to some of these differences and the different strengths that they can bring. And again, I think that comes back to perspective. Different perspectives can also be a great way to learn and advance and enhance your skill set.
Rocky Dhir: But now, let’s talk for a second about — And Regan, one thing I was very impressed with your article was I can just tell reading it you’re an extremely organized person, which means you and I have very little in common. Okay, this would — you would be frustrated with me as a mentee. You’ll be like, “This guy has absolutely no skills of life, whatsoever. How did he make it to adulthood?” But you know, you talk about you’ve got standard operating procedures and you’ve got files where you put things away so people can use them; obviously very fastidious with that. But the big question is how do you make time to be a mentor? Because it means you’re effectively not billing those hours, you’re not working on your cases, you’ve got deadlines looming. And as lawyers, we know the deadlines don’t stop. So, how do you how do you balance that and how do you make time for that? With all the other demands on your daily schedule?
Regan Boyce: What’s the saying? If you want something done, give it to a busy person. I have always found that if it’s important, I will find time, I will make the time. If I have to give up some of my personal time in order to spend time with a mentee whether it’s meaning I stay later at the office because I have to get things done later in the day because I took time out of my day to spend time with a mentee, I’m willing to do that; because I see the importance of having mentorship in your personal life as well as your professional life. I wouldn’t be here today without having some wonderful mentors who gave their time to me. And so, I think for a mentor, you have to understand what mentorship is. It means you’re giving of yourself to that mentee, you’re giving your time. Recognize the importance of what you’re doing and then it makes that time that you’re giving up I think worthwhile. And it’s not that you’re giving up time but that you are sharing your time. And so, you know a successful mentorship relationship requires some self-sacrifice giving your time.
Rocky Dhir: Then how do you get a family by end of that? I mean sure maybe the firm is saying good, this is great. But then if you’re staying at the office later, you’ve got kids or you got a spouse and they’re saying “why are you out later?” How do you get your family to buy into this? Nikki, do you have any perspectives or have you had to cross that bridge a few times?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: I think because my kids were always raised with the attorney for a mother, they don’t see it as odd. I think that it’s just kind of the way of life. They understand that there are times where I may be late or weekends where I don’t make games because I’m in Trial prep or whatever it may be. And with the family from that perspective, it’s just balancing. They know that every time I can make it, I will make it even if it means that I go to a softball game and I come back and I work until the wee hours of the morning. And so it’s just that investment in them, I think investment in your firm investment and investment in you’re young associates; I think as long as everyone understands that you are giving it your all and your heart, then no one cries about the small sacrifices that it takes for you to kind of split yourself in a few different parts. And just kind of like Regan said when you’re talking about young associate, the more time that you put into a younger associate the better they are going to be, which in the end makes my life as a senior attorney easier, because I can entrust them with more tasks and more responsibility. Whereas I left them to answer their own questions or to their own devices, I would still have —
Rocky Dhir: Fixing everything.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Yeah. I would still have the same load or more on my plate. So it’s worth that investment. And as long as it’s sincere and you’re putting your energy fully into those people when you’re with them, such as my family, when I’m with them, they have my complete attention, then the times that I’m not with them are not missed because of the meaningful moments while I am with them.
Rocky Dhir: Well, Denise, what about your perspective? I know you’ve got a husband and you’ve got a dog. So you got responsibilities too and your career is very much on the upswing. How do you balance being a mentor with trying to keep your career on the trajectory you want it to be?
Denise Paul: Yes. My dog is very demanding, but I kind of bring my mentees into my family. And so my husband has met all of my mentees. We will have them over for holiday celebrations; and that way he can put a face with a name like, “Okay, that’s the person that why you’re not home for dinner,” “Yes, that’s why I’m not home for dinner.” And so I think when you get to that level of relationship, you can do that and then it becomes more of a bit of a friendship but still a mentor mentee type of relationship. But I love for people to meet my entire family. Nikki knows my entire family, so I take that approach to it, and then I think that kind of eases the demanding part where it’s just like I’m spending time with another family member. I’m not neglecting you necessarily.
Rocky Dhir: So we’ve got time for maybe two more questions. I’ve been saving these to the end, because these are the ones I really wanted to ask you guys. So, Denise, I think I know the answer for you, but you can answer too if you want to. But especially with Nikki and Regan, who were your most memorable mentors or maybe the most impactful mentors and why? So I guess, Regan, we’ll start with you. Who is the one that stands out the most for you? And it can be more than one answer. I mean, you may have a couple that stand out.
Regan Boyce: I’ve got five that stand out, actually.
Rocky Dhir: Holy mackerel.
Regan Boyce: Yeah. Okay. And I’ll list them for you. Dr. Fockel(ph) who was my mentor in my undergraduate college. Diane Flyzack(ph) was a corporate attorney who reached out to me as a witness in a case and convinced me to go to law school. Sheila Brown was a senior associate at a firm I worked at, and she was instrumental in teaching me the nuts and bolts of practice in litigation. Paula Kane was a family friend for years, but she always stayed in touch with me and she inspired me to go into the law. And then Richard Burstein was another senior associate I worked under, and he really trained me in just sharpening my oral argument and my writing skills.
Rocky Dhir: Yeah, that answer at the fingertips. I was hoping to stump you for once. My goodness.
Regan Boyce: They’re important people. You don’t forget them.
Rocky Dhir: No, you don’t. You certainly don’t. So, Nikki, how about you?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Yes. When I first started out, I started out in prosecution in Jefferson County; and I had Tom Manus(ph) and Ed Shettle(ph), who emphasized the importance of balancing family, civic life and the practice of law. Their motto was that you deal with the worst of the worst, so you have to make sure that you get out and do some good in the world. And that’s how I became Denise’s mentor. It is by their encouragement for us to get out and go run or go mentor or go volunteer, go do something other than concentrate on the bad side of life when you’re not working. And they gave us those opportunities. So that put me on the path. Well, I won’t say they put me on the path because I had always been mentoring, but I found with them the ability to balance law with mentoring.
Rocky Dhir: With the mentoring. Got it.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Exactly. And then once I went on into civil law, I had Judge Ricardo Hinajosa who believed that I was one of the best attorneys down in the valley for criminal, which I was not. But his encouragement and his ability to answer my questions and be open to just talking and discussing different aspects of the law truly helped and benefit my law practice. And then Norton Colvin down with Colvin Saenz, Rodriguez & Kennemer encouraged and believed that I could handle the big cases when I didn’t believe I could. And now I’m passing on that same encouragement to other young attorneys.
Rocky Dhir: Wonderful. Now, Denise, like I said, I know Nikki’s going to be going to be one of your answers. So, Nikki’s, there, are there any others that stand out to you as other mentors that have been important to you and why?
Denise Paul: Yes, I would say I think Ms. Nikki got me to maybe where to get through law school, you know, I probably wouldn’t have gone down the path, or at least not as smoothly if I didn’t have her.
But also, going back to our earlier question, my first boss out of law school, and I actually clerked for him in law school in house, Mr. Dan Chapman, he has been instrumental in my career. He kind of took me in as not even a lawyer yet, showed me the ropes, and he continues to advise me till today. So he’s been very instrumental.
Rocky Dhir: So, final question, and then we’re going to have to wrap this up. But final question, and you only get one answer. So last time you could give five or six or whatever. Now it’s just one answer. In your opinion, what is the single biggest factor in a successful mentorship relationship?
Nikki Chargois-Allen: Open communication. Being able to convey that they can talk to you whenever and about whatever is on their plate, and being available when they do need to have those conversations.
Rocky Dhir: No judgment, I guess, when they do that.
Nikki Chargois-Allen: That’s exactly right.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, Denise. How about you? Single biggest factor.
Denise Paul: You can tell she’s my mentor, because she totally stole my answer. So since she went with communication, I’m going to go with trust. So you have to trust that your mentor actually has your best interest at heart, that they are actually trying to help you to get to where you want to be, and that they actually are taking a genuine interest in you and to help you advance.
Rocky Dhir: Regan, how about you?
Regan Boyce: Well, I think my answer sort of builds on that, and that is listening. You got to listen to the mentor and actually take in the information that they’re giving you. And mentors, you need to listen to your mentees. So listening I think is crucial and is a key component of a good mentorship relationship.
Rocky Dhir: Man, this has been fun. I wish we could keep going but guys, we are out of time. And so, Nikki, Denise, and Regan, thank you for joining us today and for mentoring the rest of us into becoming good mentors and mentees. So thank you all for joining us.
Denise Paul: Thanks for having me.
Regan Boyce: Thank you.
Rocky Dhir: Absolutely. And of course, I want to thank you for tuning in, and I want to encourage you to stay safe and be well. If you like what you heard today, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or your favorite podcast app. Until next time, remember, life’s a journey, folks. I’m Rocky Dhir signing off.
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