A Mentor Moment with Richard Tchir

June 23, 2022

Smiling man with glasses in a library“Mentoring new lawyers and younger counsel revives your spirit and invigorates you. It reminds you why you chose your path and what it means to see that justice is done.”

Richard Tchir has been a mentor with the Law Society’s Mentor Express program since 2018. 

Q: Why did you get involved with Mentor Express?
A: “I have been practising law for over 30 years and have been a Sessional Instructor for five years at the U of A Faculty of Law co-instructing a class on Law and Policing. I have always had an open door for colleagues at work and enjoyed consulting and mentoring on practice and legal issues. During my experience instructing, I became aware of a real need for young lawyers to have access to more senior counsel to bounce ideas off and discuss legal issues. When Mentor Express started in 2018 I saw it as the perfect platform for facilitating that gap, so I signed up.”

Q: Tell us a bit about your current mentoring relationship(s):
“Most of the mentor relationships I have established through Mentor Express involved lawyers in their first five years of practice. Some have been lawyers in other countries who were commencing practice in Alberta. Although some were interested in my area of practice of criminal law, many wanted to discuss with a senior lawyer issues of work/life balance and the culture of the profession in Alberta. My mentees have ranged in age and background, some with full careers in other areas before moving to law.

Besides being involved in Mentor Express since it began, I have also volunteered to mentor individuals from my former law school and I am a Surrogate Principal for students-at-law for the past two years at my place of work. It gives me a great opportunity to meet with a number of articling students from varied backgrounds and experiences.

I also am an informal mentor to counsel in my office on a range of issues – both personal and practice related.”

Q: How long have you been involved in mentorship?
I’ve been involved in mentorship in an informal way all my career. I have been involved in formal mentorship through the articling program over the last two years and Mentor Express since it began in 2018. I benefited greatly from the mentorship of senior lawyers throughout my practice of law, and particularly during the early years. I wanted to pay this forward and immediately made myself available in whatever capacity I could to junior counsel and contemporaries whenever the need existed.”

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your role as a mentor?
“I think I get as much out of mentoring as the mentees.

While it has nothing really to do with the actual practice of law, I really enjoy meeting new lawyers and learning about their career journeys that have led them to the practice. In a very short time I have engaged with many lawyers from varied backgrounds and countries. It is invigorating and humbling to discover the diversity of talents in our profession.

The practice of law can be challenging and has its ups and downs; however, it is an incredibly rewarding career. I find it is very satisfying to support my colleagues in the profession. I have been happy to share my own experiences with mentees. While mentees can expect to encounter hurdles in their career, over the long run those are but brief learning moments that can lead to greater rewards.

These interactions with mentees can have a ripple effect and help build collegiality across the profession as we have the opportunity to learn more about, and from, each other.”

Q: What do you hope your mentees take away from working with you?
A: “It is important to ensure the mentee knows that I consider our relationship is important and I will make time for future discussions. I have impressed upon mentees that our scheduled meeting is not the end of the relationship and that they can always reach out in the future should they need to. I also ensure if there is an area I feel I can’t comment on effectively that I put them in touch with other colleagues who I know can provide information, even if those colleagues are not in the Mentor Express program.

My hope is that they know they can always reach out to myself or another colleague in the practice to be a sounding board for some reassurance and guidance.”

Q: What have you learned from working with your mentees?
“In my opinion, the practice of law, and especially criminal law, is very exciting and fulfilling. People’s interactions with the criminal justice system can have an incredible impact on their life. The routine of being a senior practitioner can sometimes make you forget the weight of your role.

Mentoring new lawyers and younger counsel revives your spirit and invigorates you. It reminds you why you chose your path and what it means to see that justice is done.”

Q: If another lawyer is thinking about becoming a mentor, what should they know beforehand?
“Lawyers should know that being a mentor is incredibly rewarding. It does not take a significant time commitment and can make a profound difference to another member of the profession.

Practically, I would recommend that once the mentor is contacted by the mentee, they should inquire as to the mentee’s background and the matters the mentee would like to discuss. This gives the mentor an opportunity to prepare for the meeting and ensure it is more meaningful for both parties. I would encourage a mentor to make themselves available beyond one meeting and to develop a relationship with the mentee. This ensures the mentor and mentee will get the most out of the program and both will have a positive experience.”

The Law Society of Alberta offers Mentor Moments to acknowledge the contributions made by volunteer lawyers in their mentorship programs and to encourage other Alberta lawyers to consider participating. Read more Mentor Moments.

We do not attempt to verify mentors’ statements in their Mentor Moment profiles and the opinions expressed are solely their own. The Law Society of Alberta does not endorse any individual profiled or contents provided.