Why Mentoring Matters in the Legal Profession

Everyone needs a little help sometimes. As previously discussed in our article on The Benefits of Mentoring in the Workplace, mentorship imparts soft and hard skills to the mentee to help them navigate the professional world. And while this is true for most professions, it is especially crucial when it comes to the legal profession.

Read on to understand how mentorship benefits those in the legal profession and learn how to maximise these advantages.

Benefit of Mentorship: Learn Through Practice

While law school equips budding legal professionals with the basic knowledge that they will need to start their legal careers, they still have much to learn before they can consider themselves adept in this field of work.

Those in the industry need the know-how to successfully navigate cases and handle clients, which is usually more than what they teach in law school. Case in point, an overview by Special Counsel on the many responsibilities that come with being a defense attorney include things like researching cases, interpreting laws, and negotiating plea deals, just to name a few. Indeed, the legal profession is best learned through practice and proper guidance. This is also why the ability to practice law in the Netherlands hinges on additional training under the tutelage of seasoned lawyers from the respective firms that have taken them in. The training covers civil law, administrative law, and criminal law, and must be completed before you can move up from being a trainee lawyer.

Benefit of Mentorship: Networking

The importance of networking in the legal profession is invaluable. The Guardian details how building the right contacts could lead to better professional opportunities down the line, opportunities that could potentially fast track your career. So how does a mentor play a part in this process?

Mentors have already built connections throughout their respective careers, connections that they could pass on to their mentees. They could recommend successful mentees to a law firm or even to another mentor that would fit their expertise better. This should prove to be beneficial, as they can point mentees in the right direction with a glowing recommendation that should simplify the often, intimidating process of networking.

Tip #1 for Maximising a Mentorship Program: Don't Micromanage

An article published on Inc. details how micromanaging is counterproductive to your company's goals, as giving your staff the room and opportunity to develop is integral to success. This also applies in the legal profession, as mentors that micromanage end up doing more harm than good.

Micromanaging takes learning opportunities away from budding legal professionals. What's more, it's detrimental to the mentors who end up taking on the mentee's work. Instead of micromanaging, have mentors assign mentees manageable tasks, such as conducting preliminary hearings. After a quick guide on how to go about this task, let them do it on their own, and assess their performance afterwards. Mentors who keep their hands off allow mentees to learn from their mistakes and build confidence and independence.

Tip #2 for Maximising a Mentorship Program: Match Specialisation

The usual cause of an ineffective mentor-mentee relationship is rarely either party's fault. It may just be that the mentor doesn't match the mentee's needs. For instance, it wouldn't make sense to pair a mentee who's interested in criminal law with a mentor that deals mostly with environmental law.

A successful mentorship program takes the mentee's aspirations and skill set into consideration. Keep this in mind when designing your mentorship program and try your best to pair the right mentors with the ideal mentees from the get-go.

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