Previously a qualified architect, Cheryl Ferguson studied at the University of Glasgow and is currently a second year trainee at Black and Markie Solicitors. She is training in a broad range of matters including mental health law, children's referrals and criminal defence.
I don’t know how many trainees actively think about seeking out a mentor but the value of a strong mentoring influence in your professional life cannot be emphasised enough. I read a twitter thread recently by @TheRealDoctorT about his tutelage by a highly experienced surgeon, what that gave to him and what that experience, in turn, allowed him to impart to others.
We all experience doubts during our career but in a competitive environment such as law, as trainees we may be unwilling to express those fears and doubts openly. Admittedly, I am very prone to experiencing a crisis of confidence. During one such episode in the first year of my traineeship, I had arranged to have a coffee with Neil Mackenzie, Director of Training and Education at the Faculty about a career at the bar. In that one hour he managed to turn my entire attitude to my career around. I had come to that meeting feeling embarrassed and negative; I left invigorated and positive, planning my future career steps.
Neil’s guidance during that coffee was invaluable and as an indirect result, I am now fortunate enough to be under the guidance of a positive mentoring influence within my job. Your employer or supervising partner can be a key figure in developing your potential. It is not about someone simply flattering you all the time - to gain from the relationship you must be able to communicate candidly with your mentor about your abilities and your flaws, accept criticism (but of the constructive variety!) and amend your professional behaviours accordingly. Praise ought to be given where praise is due.
If you do not have that experience with your current supervisor, seek out a mentor with whom you can cultivate that beneficial relationship and if you don’t know where to begin to look, a good place to start is the Law Society of Scotland’s Career Development Mentoring Scheme.
You won’t regret it.
You can read @TheRealDoctorsT's thread here.