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Mentoring and Well-Being in the Law [Panel Discussion]

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used in place of professional advice, treatment, or care in any way. Lawyers, law students, judges, and other legal professionals in Massachusetts can find more on scheduling a Free & Confidential appointment with a licensed clinician here.

Traditionally, mentorship provides knowledge, guidance, and advice to the mentee to help develop their career and practice. It is, however, also a powerful tool for promoting engagement, fostering belonging and connection in mentor and mentee alike. If done well, our panelists agree, it contributes to our mental health and well-being, which could mean the difference between the success of the attorney and legal entity, minimizing the damaging impact on self-worth, improving productivity and happiness. Additionally, we will discuss the impact of mentoring on lawyers from underrepresented and historically excluded populations as they are among the most likely to experience the negative impacts of mentorship gone awry.

Hear from our esteemed panel on how mentoring programs have changed, their impact on well-being and how mentoring can enable attorneys to become, or hinder them from becoming, their best selves professionally and personally.  This is a discussion for Attorney leaders, administrative leaders to the most junior of attorneys.

Co-Sponsored By

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Meet Our Moderator

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Stacey A. L. Best
Executive Director, LCL MA

Stacey A. L. Best, Esq. joined LCL in 2021 as the Executive Director and, in that role is responsible for the strategic direction, daily operation, and management of the staff of both LCL and LOMAP. Stacey represents and participates with key stakeholders at various agencies and Committees of the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), including the SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, the BBO, and the Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism to improve the quality of the legal profession.

Stacey joined LCL after spending 18 years with the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) and the Office of Bar Counsel (OBC). Most recently Stacey served as the Acting Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the BBO, a newly created role. At the BBO, Stacey investigated alleged violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct and litigated all stages of the disciplinary proceedings including all appeals.

After graduating Boston College law school, Stacey began her career as a staff attorney in the trial division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS).  She tried cases at the district and superior court levels representing indigent clients charged with felonies. Stacey is also a former clinical instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) at Harvard Law School, where several of her students tried cases. Stacey enjoys mentoring and teaching in a variety of settings including CLE, bar associations and law schools.

Meet Our Panel

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Gavin Alexander (He/Him/His), Esq.
Wellness Director, Jackson Lewis P.C.

Gavin Alexander (he/him/his), Esq. is an experienced and passionate advocate and thought leader in the areas of mental health, well-being, and diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession and beyond.  He is a licensed attorney and Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist, and he currently serves as the Wellness Director of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm with over 950 attorneys and over 60 offices across the United States.  Before joining the firm, Gavin served as the first-ever Fellow of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. Gavin shared his own personal experiences with depression and near-suicide in Depression to Dedication: How Chief Justice Gants Saved My Life and Catalyzed Ongoing Advocacy for Mental Health in the Legal Profession, 62 B.C. L. Rev. 2759 (2021), and “Trailblazing Toward Better Mental Health & Well-Being in Law: Q&A with Gavin Alexander, Well-Being Advocate,” Thomson Reuters Practical Law (Apr. 26, 2022), and he regularly speaks at law firms, law schools, conferences, courts, bar associations, and other legal institutions.

Gavin studied Theater and Mathematics at Wesleyan University, and he graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude in 2012.  After law school, Gavin clerked for Justice Ralph D. Gants at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and from 2013-2020, Gavin practiced as an associate in the corporate department of a global law firm.

Gavin has served as a Co-Chair of the Mass. LGBTQ Bar Association and as a board member of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association.  Presently, he serves as a member of the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being, and as a board member of Lawyers Depression Project and Leadership Brainery.  He also serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs DEI Committee, Institute for Well-Being in Law DEI Committee, Boston Bar Association DEI Section Steering Committee, and the Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Fund Advisory Committee.

Gavin was named one of the Best LGBT Attorneys Under 40 by the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association in 2017, selected as one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s 25 “Up & Coming Lawyers” for 2019, featured on the Mass. Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list for 2018-2020, and inducted as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in 2020. In 2021, he received the Mass. Association of Hispanic Attorneys’ Leadership Award, and in 2022, he received the Kevin Larkin Memorial Award for Public Service from the Mass. LGBTQ Bar Association.

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Zane Fernandez, Esq.
Corporate Attorney, Gesmer Updegrove

Zane Fernandez, Esq. is a corporate attorney at Gesmer Updegrove LLP in Boston, representing emerging companies in a wide range of matters from corporate formation and governance, contract creation and review, and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to his current role at Gesmer, Zane had experience working on large private equity transactions at Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston.

Zane is passionate about making a positive impact in the legal profession when it comes to lawyer well-being, diversity and inclusion, and mentorship. As someone who has incredible mentors who have helped and continue to help Zane along his life and career, he is committed to paying this mentorship forward to the next generation of lawyers on their journey.

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Robert Harris, Esq.
Chief Practice Group Management Officer, Hinckley Allen

Robert Harris, Esq. is Hinckley Allen’s Chief Practice Group Management Officer, supporting all of firm’s four major practice groups: Construction, Corporate, Litigation and Real Estate. Robert serves as a trusted advisor to the Managing Partner, the Executive Committee, and Practice Group Leaders to help drive the Firm’s strategic goals and objectives in the key area of legal talent and practice group management. Specifically, Robert collaborates with Practice Group Leaders to develop the group’s strategy and performance objectives, and oversees the timely execution of initiatives to support such strategy and objectives, including core functions of recruiting & retention, business development, and talent management. Robert also ensures that these practice group initiatives are aligned to support and drive the Firm’s overall mission, culture, and values. Additionally, he serves as a key liaison between practice groups and Firm management and administration.

Prior to joining Hinckley Allen, Robert was a Partner at Brown Rudnick. He received his JD from Boston University School of Law and his B.A. (with distinction) from Swarthmore College.

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Ingrid Michelsen Hillinger, Esq.
Professor at Boston College Law School

Ingrid Michelsen Hillinger, Esq. is a professor at Boston College Law School where she teaches a variety of commercial law/bankruptcy courses including Business Bankruptcy, Contracts, and Secured Transactions. She was named one of the 26 “Best Law Teachers” in the country by the authors of What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press) and was the 2002 winner of the Boston College Distinguished Teaching Award.

Hillinger is a co-editor of Chapter 11 Theory & Practice: A Guide to Reorganization (LRP Publications), a multi-volume bankruptcy treatise. She is a co-author of an Article 9 case book, Commercial Transactions: Secured Financing: Cases, Materials & Problems (Carolina Academic Press), which adopts a problem-solving approach to teaching transactional law.

During her 43-year teaching career, Hillinger has taught at a variety of schools, including William & Mary, University of Texas Austin, Emory University, Northeastern University School of Law, and the University of Connecticut School of Law. While at William & Mary, she received an Outstanding Teacher Award from the Virginia Council on Higher Education.

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Joan Parsons Ziady, Esq.
Founder of Winslow Workplace Advisors

Joan Parsons Ziady, Esq. as an attorney and the Founder of Winslow Workplace Advisors, helps law firms enhance and expand mentoring to create a strong feedback culture with increased positivity and improved lawyer well-being. Leveraging her extensive experience in private practice at a national law firm, including as diversity partner, she provides a fresh perspective on effective mentoring in today’s work environment where we all learn from each other.

Joan is a former president of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Boston, New England’s leading professional organization for women in the commercial real estate industry, as well as its former mentor program coordinator and board member.

Joan has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of its Top Women in Law and by Banker & Tradesman as one of its Women of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE). She also received CREW Boston’s Leadership Award for her work to advance women in the Greater Boston real estate community.

Joan holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School and received her B.A., summa cum laude, is from Tufts University. She and her husband are the parents of four grown children and an Australian Shepherd.




Mentorship Is Not All About the Mentee (ABA Journal, 2022)

5 Virtual Mentoring Tips to Stay Engaged (IL Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, 2021)

Mentorship Helps Black Women Thrive in Legal Profession (Diverse Education, 2020)

Women Need 2 Types of Networks for Professional Success, Study Suggests (Mass LOMAP, 2021)

A 5-Point Plan for Becoming the Best Mentor You Can Be (Fast Company, 2021)

More Networking Posts on Mass LOMAP

Counterintuitive Networking (LCL MA, 2017)


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Lawyers, law students, and judges in Massachusetts can discuss concerns with a law practice advisor, licensed therapist, or both. Find more on scheduling here.

CATEGORIES: Leadership | Mentorship | Webinars for Busy Lawyers
TAGS: quality of life | relationships

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