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By David Harder on May, 18, 2017

Upset with the News? Go Mentor a New World

Mentorship transforms lives. Mentorship has the power to dissolve disengagement and the scourge of underemployment. Mentorship is critical in preparing our young people for the future of work. Mentorship creates stellar careers and lives.

Cynthia Fanning Juno was a fresh-faced associate attorney with one of LA’s leading law firms. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, she had the credentials and the ambition to climb a long ladder up. One day, the legendary civil rights attorney Sharon Lybeck Hartmann was looking for an attorney to pull on “all-nighter” for a pressing pro-bono case. Everyone had turned her down until she asked Cynthia. In the young attorney, Sharon saw intellect, an impressive set of morals, and values that simply moved her. She took the young attorney under her wing. Cynthia’s outlook of the legal profession and view of the world transformed. As a mentor, Sharon taught her to litigate with an entirely new level of awareness. “If you want to understand a case, put yourself in the shoes of the opposing side. Feel their pain. Recognize their issues. To litigate powerfully, you need to develop empathy for everyone in that room.” Sharon gave Cynthia an accelerated view of the world and a growing awareness that the standard path isn’t always the right path.

Cynthia came into our Inspired Work Program in 1993 and was sincerely ready to change her life. All was confirmed during our question sessions. At one point, she wrote,

  • “I believe I can change the practice of law through one-on-one work with clients. It is the single most satisfying aspect of my work. In a large firm, it could take years to do that.”
  • “While litigation is profitable for the firm, most clients don’t understand the impact a trial will have on their lives, careers, well-being, and outlook. I can change the practice of law by educating my clients.”

Immediately after that weekend, Cynthia launched her own law firm. In the years since that firm has become a powerhouse for clients who want a more consultative approach to litigation. Her firm formally educates each client they make informed decisions in moving forward to trial as well as all other options. She fell in love with her work and her personal life soared as well. Cynthia married her girlfriend Jill and they adopted a little boy who is about to turn 12. They invest in property and live in multiple beautiful locations. Life is good.

I told Cynthia she has developed a reputation as one of the trial lawyer’s opposing counsel does not want to see. She laughed and responded, “I always make it a point to pick the right side and speak to the judge’s heart.” She told me Sharon’s voice is always present and gives her this compassionate point-of-view that wins because of the truth, and a narrative that is just, and right.

Cynthia recently discovered the joy and satisfaction Sharon Lybeck Hartmann experienced in mentoring her. Coming full circle, she gives her time and experience and wisdom towards helping young people make an informed decision on whether or not the law is the right path for them. The experience is overwhelmingly wonderful for Cynthia. The ritual of mentorship honors the young people she supports, it honors her life and it keeps bringing life to all she learned from Sharon:

·     Be courageous

·     Stay connected

·     Stay open

·     Keep listening

As for you? Go find someone young, fresh, sincere and open. Go mentor a new world.

Brought to you by David Harder, President – Inspired Work, Inc.

P: (310) 277-4850 / E:

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