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Sponsor, Don't Mentor

Michelle Silverthorn, founder and CEO of Inclusion Nation, a diversity consulting firm, admits that she didn’t know how to succeed when she started in BigLaw. As she looked around, she did not see a lot of black women partners. “I didn’t even know what success looked like,” she writes in a recent article in Legal Management, the magazine of the Association of Legal Administrators. But as she tells it, she got lucky and found her path thanks to a group of senior leaders who advocated for her, promoted her and challenged her. “Traditionally,” she says, “they would have been called mentors. But recently, we have realized that those leaders who play the role of advocate, coach, guide and enforcer are far more than mentors – they’re sponsors.”