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updated on 09 July 2020
Mentoring relationships are common within all industries and all stages of a career. However, the importance of these relationships in an industry as competitive and rigorous as the legal profession cannot be understated.
Within this ambitious industry, such relationships can teach both mentee and mentor invaluable skills and offer a mutual learning opportunity for all involved. For example, the mentee can benefit from authentic guidance, support and information – that is not necessarily available online – to aspiring legal professionals who are researching in preparation for their future applications. Meanwhile, the mentor is simultaneously upskilling themselves by providing this guidance and will be seeing self-growth of their own throughout the process.
Therefore, during uncertain economic times such as these, when aspiring legal professionals are seeking direction and guidance ahead of their future, mentoring relationships constitute incomparable tools for guiding you through this period of instability. Current and future legal professionals should also put themselves out there to make connections and establish mentoring relationships, as a way of giving back to the next generation of legal professionals in such unpredictable times.
Below are five benefits and reasons as to why committing to a mentoring relationship within the legal industry could be beneficial to you, whether this be in the form of a mentee or mentor.
1. The personal benefit
Undeniably, the personal benefits you can gain from engaging in mentoring relationships are huge. For example, for a mentee, it is highly likely that you will develop your skillset even further; whether this be confidence, communication, organisation, critical thinking or study skills. Not only is this personal development beneficial to you as an overall individual, these skills are also integral to the success of your applications and are key attributes that law firms look for within their future trainee solicitors. This is a significant reason to establish a mentoring relationship, as it will undoubtedly benefit your personal development and skillset, which you can then convey to law firms when applying for vacation schemes and training contracts.
There are also personal benefits for mentors. Personal development never stops; especially within the legal industry where an everchanging business climate requires adaptability and innovation. Being able to explain concepts and ideas to someone at a different career stage highlights strong leadership skills and aids your own personal and professional development. Not only this, but the internal gratification from helping someone on their journey into law is a feeling so prevalent within mentoring relationships and rewarding enough as a personal reason to pursue such a connection.
2. The social benefit
Mentors are not just providing you, as the mentee, with advice relating to academics or law applications, they are also teaching you integral social skills. By engaging and maintaining a professional relationship with your mentor, you are illustrating the ability to build a long-lasting rapport. This is exactly what law firms will expect and look for within their future trainee solicitors; individuals who can represent the firm on a professional level while developing meaningful relationships with clients and fully understanding their needs and circumstances.
From a mentor’s perspective, establishing mentoring relationships provides social benefits by founding new connections within the legal industry – who will likely be lawyers too one day!
3. The perspective benefit
Perspective is another immense benefit to mentoring relationships. Dialogue between mentor and mentee offers brand new exposure and perspective to each other’s ideas, methods, opinions and resolutions. Ultimately, this new perspective could be the answer to a hindering issue, whether this be within the workplace or in relation to the tricky ‘why law?’ type of question on application forms, potentially leading to a more efficient outcome and a new skill or method learnt.
4. The professional practice benefit
As a mentee who has benefitted from long-lasting mentoring relationships, it is fair to say that you are likely to become a better trainee solicitor. Being used to having a mentor and someone to turn to for advice and feedback is similar to the relationship you will have with your supervisor on your training contract, and in turn hopefully means you can be proactive and confidently ask questions, as you would with your mentor.
In law, it is crucial to accept and adapt to advice and alternative methods in order to find the most efficient way to produce high-quality work for your firm and ultimately its clients. Therefore, if you have engaged with a mentoring relationship and can easily modify the way you are doing something to more effectively achieve a goal, you have developed a skill that is truly critical to your development as a trainee solicitor and a subsequent newly qualified solicitor in the future.
5. The long-term benefit
In the long run, mentoring relationships provide both mentee and mentor an environment to grow and make mistakes in a professional manner. If well established, these relationships are long-lasting and both mentee and mentor can rely on each other in the long-term future, even if regular mentoring sessions, so to say, come to an end.
Having benefitted from being mentored, previous mentees often take on a mentor role going forward and can pass down the brilliant advice and support they were given to the next generation of legal professionals.
There are so many fantastic mentoring schemes available within the legal community for both prospective mentees and mentors to sign up to – these are just some of the benefits that come from establishing such a relationship. If you have missed the deadline for a mentoring scheme or would prefer to engage with someone you already know, consider starting your own mentoring relationship and get talking! There really is no time like the present, which happens to be unpredictable and uncertain, to find a mentor or mentee for guidance and develop a long-lasting professional relationship.
Bethany Walker is a future trainee solicitor at Moore Barlow LLP. She also runs her on law-related Instagram account bethanywalkerlaw.