David Bryson, an experienced mentor from our career and trainee CPD schemes, discusses our newest mentoring scheme for law students and trainees.

I have been involved with other branches of the Law Society’s mentoring work for many years: the established career mentoring scheme as well as the Trainee CPD Programme. Recently I was asked, alongside fellow experienced mentor Carole Ferguson-Walker, to help facilitate a refresher session for new mentors on the new student:trainee scheme which has just reached it's halfway point..

The scheme was launched with the aim of helping prospective trainees navigate the traineeship recruitment process. Trainees all-too familiar with what the students are going through are ideally placed to help them by acting as mentors. Running regular supervision sessions can be a very effective way of ensuring mentors feel supported and confident in their role.  Despite it being so close to Christmas, and the weather being less than inviting, the session was well attended.

The themes that emerged during the session were similar to parallel events that I have supported for more experienced mentors. This prompted Carole, my fellow panellist, to opine that “mentoring is relevant at every stage of a career”.

The mentoring challenges we discussed included:

  • helping mentees recognise progress, in addition to securing the hallowed traineeship;
  • managing changing objectives;
  • dealing with our own emotions as mentor; and
  • bringing a relationship to a close appropriately.

I was impressed by how much personal responsibility the mentors were taking and their commitment to helping the mentees. It reminded me once again of a key tenet of our profession: the desire to help others. Seeing these qualities in abundance amongst our new members bodes well for the profession.

Whilst the benefits of mentoring to the mentee are more immediately apparent, the mentors also benefit. Through practicing mentoring they develop a new method of thinking which can be used to problem solve and deal with people issues.  It equips them with a method of questioning that can be used as an alternative way of obtaining information from clients and colleagues alike. Through mentoring, the mentors will acquire some of skills that will help them in management roles and to lead projects and transactions. It also allows them to see how they can help others come up with the answers, rather than trying to come up with the solution to every problem themselves.

I wish all the mentees and mentors, and the programme director Olivia Parker, the best of luck with continuing their good work.  I look forward to a roll out of the programme and based on the soundings I have taken, I am sure it would be well supported by both new members of the profession and prospective trainees.

Mentoring matters and this programme helps new entrants join our profession, it increases the skill set of our next generation of solicitors; and therefore it benefits the profession as a whole.

As I left the session and headed out into the bitterly cold winter night, I was warmed by the energy that had been displayed in the room and by the knowledge that the attributes being developed by this programme will help serve our members, and ultimately our clients.

David is Senior Legal Counsel with Baillie Gifford & Co, and a Vice Convener of the Law Society In-house Lawyers Committee. He won Highly Commended Mentor 2017 at this year's Scottish Mentoring Network Association National Recognition Awards.

Student:trainee mentoring scheme

Our pilot project in Edinburgh sees trainee solicitors mentor students through the traineeship process. Find out more about the scheme's aims and progress so far.