The role of a mentor is a very rewarding one, and sharing experiences as a mentor is part of the support we want to offer.
Before being allocated a mentee, mentors must attend a full day of training at the Law Society of Scotland. During their training, mentors learn how to develop an appropriate mindset for the role, as well as learning how to listen constructively, question effectively, how to share their experience without taking the ownership away from the mentee, how to structure effective mentoring conversations and how to draw the relationship to its conclusion.
How it works
After the training, mentors and mentees are 'matched' depending on the requirements and experiences of the parties. One mentor will be matched with one mentee, according to the information provided in the application form and the sessions will run for around 12 months. You will need to agree with your mentee how often, when, and where you will meet.
We advise meeting for an hour, once a month but you are free to agree a timetable with your mentee and to change it by agreement when that is appropriate. It is not advisable or usually possible to hold meetings during working hours and your external commitments along with those of the mentee will influence your agreed dates and times therefore many mentors and mentees find it more suitable to meet at lunchtime, before or after work.
Frequently asked questions
A number of mentors attended an event after their involvement with the pilot scheme and shared their experiences and challenges and spoke to a panel with experience in mentoring. Read their FAQ's and advice here.
After completing a degree in International Relations at the University of St Andrews in 2009, Anna went on to study Law at the University of Edinburgh where she graduated in 2011. She then studied the Diploma in Legal Practice at the Univeristy of Strathclyde before joining Turcan Connell as a trainee in 2012 and qualifying as a solicitor in 2014. Anna left Turcan Connell in June 2017 and is now a solicitor with Morton Fraser LLP. Anna has worked with four mentees and in 2015 wrote:
I trained as a mentor in 2014 and I have had the opportunity of mentoring two law students to date and I have recently been matched with a new mentee.
The training to become a mentor involved a day long course and assessment with Jan Bowen-Neilsen who is a qualified coach and mentor and the founder of Quiver Management. The training day itself was hugely beneficial and taught me a lot about active listening and good mentoring skills.
The process of mentoring involves identifying and exploring the issues or problems the mentee has. As a mentor I will listen to the concerns of the mentee and help to identify any problems they have. Together we will discuss what they would like to change or achieve and come up with a game plan to tackle the issues. The role of the mentor is not to tell the mentee what or how to do something but to help them come up with their own strategies for coping and developing. I see my role as a mentor being one of providing support and perspective.
I have found the programme very valuable. It has been rewarding to help my mentees achieve their goals. The experience has also helped to develop my listening and management skills. I would highly recommend the Law Society’s mentoring scheme to anyone who is interested.
David Bryson is a qualified solicitor and legal advisor with Baillie Gifford and has been involved with the scheme since it's launch in 2013. David explains his experience of mentoring below:
What made you volunteer to become a mentor?
There were quite a few reasons. Firstly, I felt I wanted to give something back. Others had helped me a lot in my career, so I wanted to help people in turn. I also felt it would be good for my own self development. It’s easy to get stuck in a bit of a routine doing the day job and mentoring gave me the opportunity to learn different skills through practical application.
Do you enjoy it? If so, why?
Yes I do. It is something a bit different, and I enjoy that. It gives you a fresh perspective. I have also found it provides me with a connection with a different generation. The conversations I have with my mentee are also very interesting, which is great.
What has been the highlight so far?
It is very satisfying when something clicks and there is a light bulb moment when you have helped the person you are mentoring reach a decision or a new understanding, and this affects real change. The conversations usually have highs and lows, but the highlight is definitely when a question or a discussion really progresses the mentee.
What have you found challenging?
The expectations of the mentor and the mentee about the relationship are often different and I have found mentees may expect that the mentor is there to solve their problems. In fact the purpose of mentoring is to assist the mentee to reach their own decisions and solve their own problems but it can take a while for both sides to get comfortable with this.
Did you find the training equipped you to be a mentor?
Absolutely. I would be worried about anyone being a mentor without the training. I thought it was excellent – not just for being a mentor, but for other elements of life.
What benefits do you receive from mentoring?
I think one of the benefits to the mentor is exposure to the art of asking open questions. It really makes you think about what you are asking, and how you are asking it. Mentoring also moves you away from imposing solutions and stops you from just telling someone what to do. It gives you the skills to relax and let the individual ‘own’ their challenges and come to you with solutions.
Has your being involved with mentoring helped your organisation in anyway?
Yes. I think everyone could do with being mentored, and everyone could do with being a mentor. I find that I have more effective conversations in the workplace as a result of mentoring. In my view mentoring works best when it is separate from your work place as it allows you to discuss matters with a neutral person. The Law Society’s programme has been incredibly helpful, as it allows a generation of lawyers to benefit from more support and personally mentoring has allowed me to develop new skills and fresh thinking.
What you say to someone thinking of becoming a mentor?
Go for it. I would encourage everyone to give it a try.