Law Career Mentor Scheme
As an academic who qualified as a solicitor after studying the LLB at Leeds Law School myself I was keen to be involved with the Law Career Mentor Scheme. I remember feeling anxious as a student about how, or if, I would ever obtain a coveted training contract. The training contract was an essential if I was to reach my ambition of becoming a qualified solicitor. Although I did not take the traditional route, I did succeed in my ambition and I have since been dedicated to encouraging and supporting students who also aim for a professional legal career.
The significance of having a qualified professional as a personal mentor was therefore not lost on me and my aim was to give as many students as possible the opportunity to be allocated a career mentor.
Career Mentors are all volunteers, many are alumni of Leeds Law School, they offer their personal time to support and guide a student. The scheme is not structured so that the mentor and mentee can shape their own mentor relationship. Career Mentors are asked to provide their contact details to their student mentee, to be prepared to meet with them on a couple of occasions over the academic year and to engage in conversation/offer guidance via email etc. Mentors and mentees often connect via LinkedIn too. The scheme does not promise work experience opportunities or similar, but it is not unheard of that opportunities can sometimes arise from a successful mentor/mentee relationship.
The scheme was made available to all levels of student within the Law School and students had to apply by completing an application form and submitting their curriculum vitae. After the date for applications had passed students were invited to a brief interview. The interviews were conducted by members of academic and careers staff.
Students were asked to wear smart attire and to treat the interview as preparation for meeting their mentor. Many students approached this aspect of the application process seriously and professionally and this was great to see. Some students found that during the interview, on reflection afterwards, that the scheme was not for them at their current stage of study. The interviews were therefore a good way to test commitment and understanding of the scheme before pairing students with a professional mentor.
After the interviews were concluded a large majority of students obtained a confirmed place of the scheme with only a handful of students who decided to withdraw following the interview stage.
The information gathered during the interviews and the application forms were then used to pair students with a mentor. As far as possible I attempted to allocate students with a mentor that practised within an area they had shown interest, but this was not always possible. It is my opinion that students can learn much from a practitioner mentor that is not discipline specific and I encourage students to also take this view.
After communicating the pairings to students and mentors the final stage was to organise an event where the mentors and mentees could meet and socialise. The Law Career Mentor Networking Event took place on the 7th November 2018 hosted by Leeds Law School in the Portland Building and an inspirational speech was given by one of the volunteer Career Mentors Hayley Hayes, Senior Associate at Walker Morris LLP in Leeds and alumni of Leeds Law School. The event was well received by both the student mentees and career mentors.
The scheme is now underway for this academic year and I am hopeful that students are making the most of their mentor.