I was called to the Bar last year, 2015. Making the transition from law student, to articling student, to lawyer can be daunting and stressful. For me, mentorship has been key to making this transition as smooth as possible. Here are some of the biggest benefits of being a mentee, from my experience:
As lawyers, we have to make many judgment calls every day. For the tough calls, I often find that what I really need to run an effective cost-benefit analysis is experience. Sadly, this hasn’t been distilled into pill form yet. This is where a mentor can be invaluable. A mentor can offer you perspectives on a problem gained from years of practice. Even just a few years. This can help you make a solid decision.
Did you ever have a question you thought might be “stupid”? So stupid you didn’t want to ask your boss? And the six friends from law school you texted didn’t know the answer either? I have. Enter a good mentor – who doesn’t judge you for asking even the most basic questions. You couldn’t figure it out for yourself. And you are not stupid. Ergo…
The job market is tough right now. Really tough. Lots of us are having trouble finding work. This can be difficult for high-achievers. A mentor can help you build your network. Maybe connect you with potential employers. Even more than that, having someone you can talk to – candidly – about your career and job prospects can be a huge help. What a benefit it is to lay your cards on the table with someone who understands the field. You can discuss where you want to be. Set realistic strategies to make it happen. Mentorship can be the key to staying positive. You can focus your efforts in the right direction.
Developing a mentoring relationship can help connect you to a community. I am relatively new to Ottawa (and Ontario, for that matter). Despite that, I have never felt like an outsider. This is a testament to the Bar in Ottawa, certainly. It is also due to the impact a mentor can have in making you feel like part of a group. Mentors can help inform you on local events, attitudes and opportunities. They can put you in touch with peers.
These are just the highlights. Mentors can also help you effectively negotiate your salary. This is especially helpful if that’s not something you’ve done before. They can help you develop new skills. They can direct you towards resources you wouldn’t have thought of yourself. The very fact that someone is available to listen to you and help you provides peace of mind. I am grateful for the mentorship I have received so far in my career. I hope to be able to pay it forward over the years to come.