Profiles in Diversity Journal First Quarter 2021

Page 76




Education: JD, Columbia University School of Law; BA, Bryn Mawr College Company Name: Venable LLP Industry: Law Company CEO: Stuart Ingis, Chairman Company Headquarters Location: Washington, DC Number of Employees: 1,400 Words you live by: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Who is your personal hero? My father is my hero, for his optimism, hard work, compassion, and kindness to all What book are you reading? 400 Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram Kendi and Keisha Blain What was your first job? Department store salesperson (during college summer break) Favorite charity: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia Interests: I love to travel with my family and discover new destinations. I also enjoy musical theater and lake kayaking. Family: My husband and I have two wonderful adult sons.

The Importance of Visible Mentoring Having practiced technology and intellectual property law for many years, I have been privileged to work with clients and colleagues who have allowed me to learn, placed their trust in my abilities, and provided me opportunities to grow professionally. I have had a front row seat from which I have been able to view the evolution of technology, and its role in creating unparalleled access to information and solutions for everyday and complex problems. I truly love what I do, the clients, the projects, and the satisfaction of a job well done. Through the years, my definition of success has evolved. At different times, simply finding and keeping my job, making it through the day, barely managing work-life balance, and developing client relationships have all been markers of success. While I don’t recall having clearly identified mentors, I landed on my feet most of the time, through both good and challenging situations. This suggests


2021 First Quarter

to me that I was, in fact, mentored during my earlier years in the practice. It was organic and subtle, and it has prompted me recently to reflect on the nature of mentorship today, especially for lawyers of color, and on the duty we have to consciously mentor others and pay it forward. Measuring success by external accomplishments may be (as it was for me) an objective metric, based in large part on what is traditionally “expected” of women. Thus, we may fail to take advantage of the growth and learning that comes from the professional journey itself and the relationships available to us. Success, instead, may be better regarded as a corollary to mentoring and being mentored, and the rich experience that hopefully derives from that. Whether one is a mentor or a mentee, mentoring must be intentional, visible, acknowledged, and mutually committed. It must go well beyond checking the box by merely assigning

someone a mentor. It requires defining roles and responsibilities for mentors and mentees, and insisting on accountability for the results. Both mentor and mentee should learn and grow. In some settings, mentoring relationships may be organic because of backgrounds and interests shared by colleagues, yet that is often not the case for people color. Partners, business professionals, and other workplace leaders must ensure that mentoring programs are robust, and the act of mentoring is an express job requirement. I have recently been given the opportunity to lead Venable’s diversity and inclusion efforts. I am so thankful to my firm and humbled by the gravity and significance of my new responsibilities. Promoting and strengthening mentoring of that visible and empowered variety will be a priority. Along with my partners, I am hoping we help redefine success for a new generation of attorneys.


Partner; Co-Lead, Intellectual Property Transactions Practice Group; Partner in Charge, Diversity & Inclusion


Nora E. Garrote