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LIV President's Blog 2012

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A guide to informal mentoring

A guide to informal mentoring

Mentoring is a key element for professional development and career progression within the legal profession.

You probably already have a raft of informal mentors who provide you with guidance on a variety of legal and career-related questions. This network has probably spontaneously developed over time without you even realising it. Developing relationships within the profession gives you the benefit of a readily available set of mentors you can call on for advice on issues as they arise.

It’s a good idea to regularly evaluate the mentors in your circle. Ask yourself who your current mentors are. Then think about what advice and guidance is provided by each mentor. Some might provide career guidance while others may help you solve legal problems or practical issues.

As your career progresses, you may find you need guidance or advice on a specific business skill, legal process or practical skill and your current circle of mentors may not have the expertise or experience to help you. Or perhaps you want to gain a new perspective from someone external to your current network.

So, consider some further questions:

  • Do you need further advice and guidance in a specific area?
    • Are you hoping to learn a new skill?
    • Do you want some guidance on workplace matters?
    • Do you want a confidante outside of your work environment?
    • Or are you just hoping to have a sounding board for ways to approach legal issues and how to progress in your career?
  • If yes, can one of your existing mentors help you?
  • If the answer is no, then perhaps it’s time to find some new mentors to add to your circle.

How can I find a new mentor?

  • Network in your workplace: Choose to spend lunch in your staffroom chatting to colleagues or try to attend internal seminars at your workplace. This will help you cultivate relationships with more senior lawyers who you can later feel comfortable approaching for advice.
  • Join a YLS Committee: This will allow you to meet young lawyers with different levels of experience and diverse expertise. Our committee members are always happy to provide guidance and support.
  • Join your law students’ society and attend functions and events: You will meet fellow students who are further along in their law degrees and lecturers and tutors who might be able to provide the guidance you need. Many legal academics also practise law outside of university and can provide insight into different areas of the profession, if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Attend the LIV’s ‘Mentoring (Net)Works’ on Wednesday, 26 August: This informal event is designed to help you to start building your connections within the legal profession and will give you an opportunity to interact with potential mentors face to face.
  • Consider using the LIV’s Mentoring Program: This program is a more formal process that links experienced lawyers (mentors) with lawyers seeking professional development, support, assistance and career guidance (mentees). The program provides an opportunity for mentees to discuss practical, legal and ethical issues confidentially with a trained LIV mentor.

Finding the right mentors for you might take some time and requires a commitment on both sides, just like any professional relationship. However, once you’ve developed a circle of mentors, the benefits will far outweigh the time and effort you put in to finding them.

Do you have a tip for finding a suitable mentor?

Written by the Young Lawyers’ Section.

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Vanessa Twigg
The LIV Mentoring Program is not necessarily a more formal process. As an LIV mentor, I regularly meet with law students and lawyers who just want to chat about options for work in government law. It may be a on-off coffee, or a number of email exchanges or a phone call. What's important, is to share our knowledge and give people options for an interesting and varied career in the law.
18/08/2015 12:13:09 PM

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