Mentor X: The Life-Changing Power of Extraordinary Mentors

Stephanie Wickouski

Beard Books, £20

Mentor X, by top American lawyer Stephanie Wickouski, is written in a crisp, entertaining way, and is a short and diverting read (it even has template worksheets to help you choose and evaluate your mentor).

The book attempts to tackle what a mentor is (essentially think Obi-Wan Kenobi), what makes a good (and bad) mentor and how to get the most out of one. It gives many anecdotal examples of good (and bad) mentoring experiences, and delivers an interesting insight into the collegiate nature of the US legal system.

Maybe it is an American lawyer thing. OK, it must be great to have a mentor. Look how much Luke benefited from a few key bits of Obi-Wan.

But by the end I was not left with very much. As a solicitor, I have never come close to having a mentor, have never come across anyone within the legal profession

who has had one, and honestly I am not sure how much benefit I would get from having one.

Maybe that is just me or maybe it is a reflection of our profession, which seems a little more tribal and which seldom crosses the boundaries which would need to be traversed for a mentor to be successful as envisaged by the book.

Hence, as your temporary mentor (on this very limited basis) I would have to conclude that, on this occasion, X doesn’t really mark any particular spot.

So my recommendation would be, if you are interested in finding out what makes a great mentor, think about reading Christopher Hitchens’ estimable Letters to a Young Contrarian instead.

John Flint is a partner and head of the commercial litigation team at Clarke Willmott LLP in Manchester