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I have been a lawyer since the 1960s. There was no such thing as mentoring in those days. It has been one of several huge advances (promoted by the LIV), in furthering the knowledge, capabilities and welfare of lawyers since then. I believe it is of great assistance both to new lawyers and those more experienced entering new fields of work or doing so in a different way.

Sarah is one of the latter. She has been in practice for 12 years, mainly as a sole practitioner but latterly as an in-house lawyer. Sarah is now setting up an industrial practice which will assist businesses in regional areas throughout Victoria, and asked me to act as a sounding board for her ideas and plans as I have been conducting a sole general practice including employment law for many years.

Although she was quite prepared to come to Melbourne to meet me, I was happy to take the opportunity with my wife to spend a night in the regional city where Sarah lives. I hope I gave Sarah the confidence and assistance she sought to enable her to obtain and retain the types of clients she wanted and to provide them with a first class service.

Peter Mercoles is a sole practitioner, recently retired principal of Patrick Cash & Associates.


My situation is a little different from the usual mentoring relationship . . . if indeed that relationship exists at all.

I was admitted to practice in February 2003 and since 2006 have predominately operated as a sole practitioner in regional Victoria. Although during that period I also worked for several private firms, I have learned through experience and knowledge I am a far better sole practitioner than adhering to the restraints of being an employee in a legal firm.

My passion has always been in workplace relations, however, as a sole practitioner I found I was often too busy and in need of another practitioner to bounce ideas off.

I took a sideways step several months ago which allowed me to rethink, rebuild and recalculate my direction. I decided to start a regional based legal and training organisation for employers in rural areas as I could identify a critical need in this area. I was able to join all the dots bar one. I needed an experienced practitioner I could discuss ideas with.

I spoke to some wonderful people in regional areas, however I needed a practitioner who understood employment and workplace relations as well as sole practice.

Peter ticked every box. He and his wife took the time to meet me in regional Victoria and chat about my thoughts, intentions, the law and all that was relevant to sole practice. He is a sounding board for my ideas and a wealth of information from his 30 plus years of legal experience. As practitioners we never stop learning. Just like the law, we are constantly evolving and growing. I thank Peter for being part of my evolution and growth in my new legal endeavours.

Sarah Wade is principal lawyer at Wade Lawyers.


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