Mentoring is a great opportunity to gain a wider insight into the legal profession and the chance to be helped and advised by someone who has been through applications and have started their careers. It is definitely one of the most important things you can do to enhance your professional life and career. Mentoring is also mutually beneficial for both the Mentee and the Mentor as it allows both participants to develop transferrable skills that will help with not only university life, but beyond.
See below for my tips on being a Mentee and being a Mentor and how best to get the most out of your Mentoring relationship.
Being a Mentee:
- Be committed. It’s down to you to initiate the conversations or meetings. Spend some time thinking about how often you’d like to talk with your Mentor (whether that be weekly, fortnightly, monthly, etc) and put the time aside. Your mentor will be expecting your call or email.
- Be clear and honest about your goals. Mentors want to help you to achieve them. Set a 6 month objective.
- Spend some time considering your objectives. What are your weaknesses? What would you like to learn in particular / become more familiar with? A skill? Research tools? What are your plans and goals? These are some things you can discuss with your Mentor.
- Come to each meeting with a prepared agenda. Know what you wish to ask, discuss or follow up on.
- Take notes during meetings. You will thank yourself later for jotting things down!
- Be appreciative. Your Mentor is a volunteer and is taking time out to help you.
- Be open to feedback. Your Mentor is there to help you grow!
- Don’t be afraid to disagree. If your Mentor suggest something you don’t like – be honest. It’s perfectly acceptable and okay.
- Enjoy it. Having a Mentor is a great opportunity. Be sure to make the most of the experience.
Being a Mentor:
- Mentors are trusted advisors. Your Mentee will want to feel as though they can discuss things in confidence. Make sure you allow them to feel this way.
- Listen. You may have lots of knowledge that you believe can help, but make sure you’re taking the time to listen to what your Mentee wants from the relationship – not just what you want to give.
- Set expectations and establish ground rules. Let your Mentee know when and how they can contact you, especially if they wish to discuss something before your next catch up. It’s good to get this established at the beginning.
- Lead by example. Your Mentee can learn a lot from how you behave and how you respond to questions. Stay professional.
- Let your Mentee make their own decisions. You are there to help them grow and guide them.
- Write follow up emails after each meeting setting out what you have discussed if you believe it to be necessary. This can act as a reminder for the Mentee about what was discussed if they didn’t note something down and prevents confusion later.
- If you’re not sure of something, explain you will find out and follow up in an email later. Do your research accordingly.
Both of you:
- Respect each other. This is a professional relationship.
- Give as well as get – you may learn lots from each other!
- Set goals mutually. Mentors are there to help Mentees achieve their goals. Set a clear plan on how this is going to be achieved.
- Set a contact schedule. You will need to agree on times and days for meetings that work for both of you.
- Be accountable. If either of you say you will do something, such as complete more research into a topic discussed or fact check something, make sure to do it.
- Be transparent and honest. If the mentoring relationship isn’t going well, spend more time respectfully discussing how this can be improved. This could be better communication, better explanations or better time management
- Set topics of discussion. A Mentee may wish to discuss academic pressure, research skills, building confidence, public speaking, writing a cover letter, perfecting an application and so on. Topics can be saved for other meetings to ensure any discussions are not rushed and are in enough detail. Be clear on this.
Key topics to discuss:
- Research skills
- Recommended podcasts / websites
- How to improve commercial awareness
- Academic pressure
- Building confidence
- Improving public speaking
- Cover letter tips
- Competency interview questions
- Interview tips
- Assessment centre tips
- How to succeed in vacation schemes
- Your weaknesses
- Application tips
- Linkedin advice
- Your targets and goals
- What you hope to achieve by the end of the year / 6 months
- Insights into the legal profession
- Career advice
Here are just a few great mentoring schemes:
- GROW Mentoring
GROW is a free mentoring initiative designed to help aspiring solicitors and students into their legal careers. It was founded by Justice Farrance, a trainee solicitor at Allen & Overy. I am a Mentor for GROW Mentoring (@grow.mentoring on Instagram) and couldn’t recommend it enough. Head over to their website here to sign up and check it out!
- Smarter Futures
Smarter Futures was set up by magic circle firm Allen & Overy to provide guidance, resources and support to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. You will have access to personal meetings with mentors and master classes on topics such as personal statements, commercial awareness and creative thinking. Head over to their website here to apply.
- Aspiring Solicitors
Aspiring Solicitors is a platform that helps underrepresented students connect with legal professionals who provide insight to increase diversity in the legal profession. They work with lawyers, law firms and legal teams to provide aspiring solicitors with work experience, mentoring and events. Head over to their website here to register.