Best Law Firm Mentors 2022: Jane Borthwick Story

Jane Borthwick Story, Jones Day

Despite her busy environmental practice, Story devotes a great deal of time to making sure each new lawyer’s transition from law school to practice goes smoothly.

“Jane is constantly making sure that attorneys who are less experienced are not only given practical support for success, but also the emotional and mental support that reassures them they can succeed. As the first lawyer in my family, having Jane as a mentor has made the transition to legal practice at a major firm more manageable than I ever thought possible,” said associate Eli Jones.

“Jane is the calm within the storm of the first few years of being at a law firm. She is always there to give advice on issues big and small, and always greets your questions with a smile and a comforting tone,” according to associate Eleanora Kaloyeropoulou.

As you built your career, who mentored you?

I have been very fortunate to have a number of wonderful mentors over the course of my career. Three that stand out are retired Jones Day partners Mary Beth Deemer and Jones Day partners Mike Ginsberg and John Goetz, each of whom has been a great champion for my success.

Mary Beth was the new lawyer group coordinator when I joined the firm out of law school. She helped me navigate all the things I was anxious about as a new lawyer with tremendous kindness. She’s also the reason I joined the government regulation group to practice environmental law when transitioning out of the new lawyer group. I learned a lot from her substantively about environmental law, but I also learned many intangible things from her that apply to the practice of law more broadly. She showed me by example that I could be successful just by being myself, without the need for artificial blunter or bravado. She also provided me with numerous opportunities to grow.

Mike is the firmwide training partner, so I had the pleasure to learn from him through formal training programs, but also informally, working on a number of environmental litigation matters for many years. Working with him on briefs, depositions, and negotiations settlement taught me a great deal. Mike also pushed me to be the one to come up with solutions and next steps, instead of just raising issues or deadlines and asking him or other partners how to proceed. John helped me tremendously with the transition from senior associate to partner, and continues to help me think of ways to develop further while remaining grounded in what makes the practice of law special. John has gone out of his way to provide me with support and opportunities and is a wonderful example of someone who is always looking out for the good of his colleagues.

What is the value of robust mentorship?

Robust mentorship is key to developing as a lawyer. Law school teaches you a lot of great skills, but the day-to-day practice of law is much different than law school. Learning by observing and working with mentors who take the time to explain the reasoning behind various decisions and provide opportunities to expand your skills is crucial.

Keeping in mind today’s rapidly changing profession, what’s one piece of advice you would give to a young lawyer?

We are very fortunate to have a variety of technologies that make it easy to work remotely, and these have been particularly valuable during pandemic. But as things open up more and in-person activities return, don’t forget the value of in-person interactions. The connections you forge and things you learn by meeting and working with people in person cannot truly be replicated with video conferences and other remote communications. Remember to take advantage of in-person opportunities as they arise.

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