Mentoring… An Introduction

Mentoring is a huge topic and one I expect we will come back to time and time again.

You might be a student (or paralegal) looking for a mentor – someone to help you understand what being a lawyer is all about and help with questions you might have about getting a training contract or the interview process. You might be a junior lawyer looking for a mentor to help you progress your career, for someone to help you understand your career direction and develop solutions to career challenges.  Alternatively you might be a junior lawyer or even a more senior lawyer wanting to give back to the legal profession by mentoring students, paralegals or junior lawyers.

What is a mentor and what is mentoring?

Mentoring is an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and it is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee). A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction and who can help them to develop solutions to career issues. Mentoring provides the mentee with an opportunity to think about career options and progress. A mentor should help the mentee to believe in themselves and boost their confidence. A mentor should ask questions and challenge, while providing guidance and encouragement. Ultimately, mentoring is about becoming more self-aware, taking responsibility and directing your life in the direction you decide, and not leaving it to chance.

Great! How can I get involved?

If you are a student most universities and PG study providers have mentoring schemes in place (although these can sometimes be on an application basis). BPP and University of Law have successful mentoring schemes. So if you haven’t already heard about it – why not ask about it.

If you are already in practice a lot of law firms offer a formal mentoring scheme. However, if there isn’t one this doesn’t mean you can’t ask someone to be your mentor (or offer your help as a mentor to someone else).

The important thing to remember is that in each case someone is giving up their personal time – and the mentor/mentee relationship should be mutually beneficial to both participants.