Rebecca McKenzie

“It was interesting to learn about myself through the process”

Scaling legal
September 29, 2022

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Who did you mentor in the Juro community’s mentoring program?

Shay Xiao, who is Legal Counsel at Dentsu.

How did you find the experience?

Great - I’ve never been a mentor before so it was interesting to actually learn about myself through the process. One of the things that I realized is that I don’t listen to my own advice as much as I should!

I discussed work/life balance with my mentee, Shay, and how to make sure, as the most junior member of the team, you’re not just taking on all of the work that no one else wants to do. All the advice I gave her was advice I had to implement myself.

The mentoring program also taught me more about being a manager. I’ve gone from being sole counsel to managing a small team, and I find that my day is usually full of meetings and high-priority projects. When I need to review a contract or look at redlines, I’m dedicating time to it in the evening.

This change in timings helped me understand lines of communication and boundaries when engaging with others - I’m definitely more conscious of using scheduling features so my colleagues focus on work during working hours.

Are you planning on keeping in touch with your mentee?

We actually discussed this during our last meeting because the mentoring program was only three months long - we felt like we were just getting to know each other, so we are planning to continue on the same cadence.

“I’m doing a lot of work that I’ve never done before, so having that sounding board to get advice is really valuable”

How important is mentoring for in-house lawyers?

I’ve found it useful; it can be incredibly lonely being sole counsel at a high-growth business. I’ve also been promoted, which means I’m doing a lot of work that I’ve never done before, so having that sounding board to get advice and a sense check is really valuable.

I’ve always had informal mentors or champions throughout my career and I’m always incredibly grateful for all of them - but it’s really only in the last 18 months that I’ve had a structured mentor, with regular, pre-prepared meetings and homework for me to do after the session.

Are there any other mentors in your career that have made a big impact?

Ken Siegel, Executive Advisor at Wilson Sonsini, is one of my mentors and he’s had a huge impact on me and my career.

He’s been my mentor for about 18 months now, and we meet once a month. He’s a great mentor because he has seen it all, done it all - and there’s nothing I could possibly throw at him that he can’t help with or provide advice on. It’s been incredibly valuable to me as a first time Head of Legal.

Who would be your dream mentor?

I’d love to spend some time having a coffee with and learning from Michelle Obama. Her career is amazing, and she’s achieved so much in terms of genuinely meaningful projects even before she was the First Lady.

A regular cadence would be brilliant, but I’d settle for a one-time coffee too, where I can learn as much from her as possible!

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Rebecca McKenzie is the Head of Legal at Codat.

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