Kenneth Siegel, Reed Smith
According to one of the many Reed Smith lawyers he mentored, Siegel is a natural teacher, with an easy, supportive style and a calm confidence. His forte is explaining even the most complex aspects of legal issues and helping his mentees analyze their options, think strategically, advance their clients’ interests and meet their clients’ needs. No matter when his mentees seek his assistance and guidance, he makes himself available to help them sort out their issues and make solid decisions. They deeply appreciate that he is never “too busy” to help them become more proficient and knowledgeable lawyers, even when he is too busy with his own practice.
Siegel’s mentees also observe that many of the attributes that make him an outstanding mentor also make him a good person. He is a model lawyer and professional, with abiding respect, limitless patience, consistent attention to detail and high expectations for them. One mentee explained, “When I had a task to do and needed honest, on-point feedback on my work, Ken would critique my efforts, of course, but more than that, he would work beside me on my tasks, side by side in the trenches, as I honed my skills, and built my confidence. I felt as if I were part of a team, not alone on an island, with Ken as my mentor.”
As you built your career, who mentored you?
In my career, I have benefitted from being mentored by more outstanding lawyers than I can count. I have been the beneficiary of mentoring from amazingly talented Reed Smith lawyers, both current and retired. All of them have had different mentoring styles and I learned something unique from each of them. I am particularly fortunate that all of them were extremely gracious with their time and considerable talents. Working with these skilled practitioners, I learned how to advocate a client’s position, as well as the value of relationships and of providing a client streamlined, practical advice.
What is the value of robust mentorship?
The legal profession is one in which a young lawyer learns by doing. We make mistakes; we exchange ideas; we incorporate other perspectives; we refine our ideas. That is how we become proficient. My mentors constantly challenge me to think about problems in different ways and implement different approaches and creative solutions to those problems. Robust mentoring is how we learn to be effective lawyers. I continually improve my skills, advice and perspective through discussions with my mentors, and my mentees, working as a team. Through relationships with others on these teams we learn from their experiences, sharpen each other’s thinking, and are able to deliver the best advice possible to our clients. We can accomplish objectives as part of a team that we cannot achieve alone.
Moreover, I have benefited deeply from the relationships I have forged with my mentors and my mentees. I count many of them among my close friends. Along the way, those relationships simply made the practice of law more fun.
Keeping in mind today’s rapidly changing profession, what’s one piece of advice you would give to a young lawyer?
I would advise young lawyers to prioritize building relationships. In this profession, we are often challenged to “finish the work” in front of us (whatever the particular work happens to be) – often, so that we can move on to the next challenging task that is on our agenda. It is easy to lose sight of the fun parts of this profession.
Every day lawyers have the opportunity to work on challenging matters with really sophisticated clients and colleagues. I advise others to finish the work, but have fun doing it. The relationships you build as a junior lawyer will help you to develop your skills and ultimately better serve your client. It is surprising how many of the relationships you develop early in your career will continue, re-emerge, grow and expand as the years go by.