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Women pilot mentoring program


More than 400 female law students applied to take part in a pilot Victorian Women Lawyers (VWL)/Women Barristers Association (WBA) student mentoring program.

VWL convenor Christine Melis said the number of applications showed the importance of mentors.

“Talking with members of the student body and then with members of HR and managing partners of law firms, I recognise that there is a gap in perceptions about the practice of law among students and the profession.

“A program such as this aims to close in on that gap and manage expectations before students even enter the profession.”

Ms Melis said it gave mentees the opportunity to engage on another level in their development as law students and gave mentors invaluable training in leadership and keeping in touch with the students.

The program was officially launched on 24 July at DLA Phillips Fox Lawyers by the program’s “champion”, Court of Appeal Justice Marcia Neave.

Speaking about her own experiences, Justice Neave highlighted the importance of mentoring.

She said a mentor could, among other things, be someone to whom you could ask the hard questions or the questions you might think unworthy of asking, or even the person whose shoulder you could cry on.

At the launch, 86 students and their mentors met for the first time.

Ms Melis said all the students were female but they left the role of mentor open to both genders and “we do have one male mentor”.

The program matches a student with a member of the legal profession for a six-month pilot program.

Students and their mentors are free to establish a mentoring relationship, with a minimum of one face-to-face meeting a month to discuss topics ranging from surviving articles/traineeships, work/life balance and career progression.

Students were chosen from a cross-section of universities, including Melbourne, Monash, Deakin, Latrobe and Victoria.

Mentors include lawyers from private practice, government, inhouse and members of the Victorian Bar.


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