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Mentoring scheme moves up a level

12 November 18

How and why the Society's mentoring scheme is undergoing expansion, and how you can become involved as a mentor or mentee

by Olivia Parker

We've been running our career mentoring scheme at the Law Society of Scotland since 2013, and we're excited to announce that we're now thinking even bigger and aiming to expand. Mentoring can be a hugely successful way to support people with career development, and we want as many people to be able to access it as possible.

The elevator pitch for “why mentoring matters” goes something like this. We all reach a stage at some point in our careers where we could benefit from some help, whether it concerns progressing to our next role, making a leap into a new company or sector, or even developing a skill we find difficult. A mentor is a dedicated person who is there to guide us through the process, by listening to our concerns, wants, needs, strengths and weaknesses. A mentor will offer wisdom, ask the right questions and be someone to help us get to where we want to be. It’s a great way for mentors to develop their people skills too, as well as having a way of giving back to support others in the profession.

In growing the scheme, we are keen to bring on board as many new mentors and mentees as possible. There's no hard and fast rule for what makes a good mentor: there's no requirement at all for you to be at a certain stage of your career; be based in a particular area; or have previous experience. You just need to be keen to learn the skills to be an effective mentor, and commit to the scheme and your mentee when the time comes. Similarly, there's no “typical” mentee. You will know if you have a specific goal in relation to your career, and as long as you have an idea of what your ideal end-result might look like, a mentor can likely help.

We will now have two permanent streams of our mentoring programme, to cater for two very different sets of needs from mentees. The first, our career development scheme, has been established for several years and is designed to help any of our present and future members with all aspects of their professional goals. The second stream is much newer and designed specifically for law students seeking traineeships, who get mentored by trainees who have recently experienced the recruitment process for themselves. We piloted this new student:trainee scheme in 2017 in Edinburgh; we were delighted with the positive response from participants and have since received a lot of interest from students and trainees alike to widen access to the programme.

New platform

Moving forward, the main reason we'll be able to support so many additional mentors and mentees is that we're taking the service online and cutting down on the admin.

Our new mentoring platform will work a little like online dating, but without the swiping(!) and profiles will be anonymised. This will put the decision-making into the mentors' and mentees' hands, rather than relying on our team to match mentoring couples together manually. Mentors and mentees will both create their own profiles, then be able to find the best match for themselves.

Prospective mentees will be able to read a blurb from mentors outlining their skills and experience, in addition to the geographical area they're based in, to ensure meetings can conveniently take place in person where possible. A mentee can then contact their preferred prospective mentor to explore whether they're a good match.

Our team will of course still have oversight of the scheme and there will be various safeguards in place. Before mentors can be active users of the platform, they will be required to undertake a training course delivered face to face, although all our existing mentors will be exempt from this requirement and can get started straightaway. The online platform will host a variety of training materials to support best practice and provide guidance about all aspects of mentoring.

If you'd like to sign up as a mentor or a mentee, you can find out more via our website, where you'll also find more information. While we're keen for anyone to take part, we do have a particular focus on recruiting mentors in our “cold spots”, which are mainly outside the central belt, in addition to enthusiastic trainees to mentor students.

We will be running an information session on Tuesday 22 January at 6pm at our offices in Edinburgh for those who would like to find out what’s involved in being a mentor. Please register your interest to attend by emailing me at oliviaparker@lawscot.org.uk.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Olivia Parker is careers development officer at the Law Society of Scotland

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